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This page last viewed: 2017-10-18 and has been viewed 2128 times
Summary: I really don't believe in them, sorry. Part of the fun of this fic IMHO is to work it out as you go. This grew out of a five-minute fic challenge that was posted at the VA.
Warning: No real spoilers. Quite dark though. Mention of suicide.
Author's note: (No one ever reads this, do they?) Just wanna say thanks to the Triumvirate (the two awesome writers/betas who are Shark and Chiller - go read all their fic NOW - oh, and mine), to Bass who also beta-ed this one (any mistakes the flaming goes to her!), to TR, Cab and Wallygator who try to keep me grounded in reality (who am I kidding? They're more insane than I am! But fabulous people). Also a huge thank you to all at the VA, without whom I would still be sane. If I missed anyone, I'm sorry - drop me a line.
Comments: Yes please! No flames, I only listen to rational arguments, but both criticism and praise gratefully accepted.
They don't understand you. Not like I do. They don't care like I do either.
You think they're your friends? Well where are they? Friends stay with each other when times are hard. They don't abandon you to a world of white walls and harsh lights...padded cells...pretty coloured pills. I'm trying to save you from that, and you tell me you want to stay? It's a lie. You don't want to, you have to. Or you think you do.
So where are they? Your friends. They bring you home to me filled full of lead, cut, bruised, exhausted, expect me to take care of you. And you expect me to take care of them? To protect them?
I remember the day I found out about them. You came and rescued me, and the look in your eyes as you helped me was that this was for all the times I had come to rescue you. Your friends, for them it was just another job, just another way to keep you happy. But I knew.
I'm breaking every code in the book, caring about you the way I do. Oh, not in a sexual, romantic way. I'm married. I love my wife. And I love you...like you say he loves you. It's driving me insane.
Please, I'm a doctor. I know exactly what this is all about. I lost a son, a boy like you are now. That's what you are, remember? A small boy lost in a grown-ups world. He was ever like that. My boy.
You say he loves you like I do, though I don't think you know what real love is. Abandoned by your father before you were even born, you lost your mother when you were five. Your grandparents loved you, but you were already lost by then. I know all about you. It's my job.
Don't you understand? Listen to me! They don't care about you. This...Hannibal Smith. He doesn't care about you the way I do. "He's like my father." Would a father leave you here? Abandon you to this place?
I'm not an idiot. Some of things I'm doing - thinking. They go against everything I live by. But it's worth it. And this will be worth it. To finally make you see.
Because you will see. Understand why they're a bad influence. You shouldn't go out and play with the other boys. They're not nice. They lead you astray. It's my job to stop you. My job and my choice.
Oh, it won't be easy. You might hate me at first. But you've called me worse things. Who holds you when the demons come? Who helps you when you sink into depression? Who stops you when you raise the blade, tighten the knot, swallow the pills? Not your "friends" - not those fakes, users. They treat you like an object.
But I'm always looking out for you, son. And I have to stop you again.
Easy now. It's all so easy. A word to the girl on the door, a few extra men always posted at the front desk. Make sure someone looks in on you frequently. No more phone calls.
Hannibal gave me the number to call if anything happened to you, but I ripped it up. Pity really, because I could have called him and told him to stay away. As it is, I have to wait. Watch. They always come. Parasites.
It's been...a month, I think, since the last time. The last mission. And the bullet wound. They stalked the hallways as the doctors cut you up, tore and sliced through your flesh to get to the harsh metal inside, close to your heart. And they were so smug, so happy. "We got here in time!" I smiled, nodded. I wanted to scream. Don't you understand, without you there would be no time? He would be okay! You didn't save his life when you brought him here; you risked it when you took him away! They risk so much for so little.
But never again. I'm actually smiling, grinning from ear to ear when I think of it! All mine. Safe. Protected. And perhaps, one day, do I dare to even think it? I could heal you, make you better. The scars on your wrists would disappear. And one day, I could show you the world. Show you that outside, there is a sun instead of electric light. And the colours are on flowers, and faces, and ice cream, and children, and cars, and in smiles and eyes. Not pills. That you don't have to inject yourself with bubbles, and dim dark solutions going down down into a vein that carries the fake happiness through a fake body into a fake mind.
Real happiness, the kind that the rest of the world knows. I'd like to show you that.
And so it starts. What was his name? Should I even bother trying to recall it...Peck? Not what he said it was, but I recognised him. I know you, so I know him. Simple, I suppose.
He told the nurse that you were giving a kidney away. She had been warned, and so naturally referred him to me. Quick and efficient, the entire operation working as a bloodless whole, we managed to direct Peck to my office without you sensing he was anywhere near the building.
We recognised each other. And the smile crept over his face like a disease, like a mould speeded up how you watch it in a film, as the bacteria divide and multiply, divide and multiply until they fill the screen and it makes you want to scrub your hands because you can feel them breeding right there. Like I said. Not a real smile.
He thought I would help, that we were on the same side. But I'm on your side.
I lied to him, throwing his lies at him, fighting fire with fire. You were sick. Couldn't be moved. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," he said through clenched teeth, his eyes like oil slicks and his smile a pool of grease that could become anything I imagined. Like staring at clouds - you see what you want to.
"Might I see him?" I wanted to throttle him with his tie. His words were sincere; he wanted to know if his dear friend was all right. But his eyes, his smile, his body told me it was a ruse. If you could only walk, they would take you.
Contagious, I said. Nothing serious Peck, but we wouldn't want you to catch anything. Might slow you down. His laughter was as fake as mine, eyes darting for anything he could take away. But you won't get my boy.
I led him out. I laughed, I joked, but I needed to get him as far away from the hospital as possible. You can be depressed just by their presence. You might not say, but I know. It's my job to know.
Practically opening his car door and strapping him in, I well-wished and grinned him on his way. Find someone else. Some other poor soul to mop your floors and be your chauffer. My boy isn't free.
The telephone was the next to go. When I put it in I never dreamed it would lead to them. But I didn't know, did I? He hid it from me for so long - the A-Team. All those years I spent time trying to help him, not knowing that *they* were undoing my work. That *they* were the cause of his depression.
He looks at me innocently as two men take the telephone away. He winces as the cord is jerked out of the wall. Another lifeline gone, he thinks. But doesn't he see? It's like training wheels. One day you have to take them away, let the child ride free.
He knows why, I think, but wants me to say. Poor boy, that lives his life by language and words. Rising costs and government problems, I tell him.
I lie. And I think he knows the truth, on some level. He rolls over, clutches the stuffed bear he has, his back to me as he lies on the bed. Of course. The child may cry the first time he falls off his bike. But when he succeeds, when he sees that he is better for it. That day, we will be happy. You'll see.
Suspicion. I should have been more careful! I should have known that they would not give up so easily. Why release him when they have it all for the taking? They don't have to look after him, can just take him when they need someone to fly for them, or take a bullet. Where else are they going to find such a deal?
They tried to steal him. Taking the telephone alerted them to my lies; they were worried I was going to finally cure him. Hannibal pretended to be a cleaner. And BA (the brute he is secretly scared of though he doesn't tell me - I can feel it when he says his name) removed the grill from outside his window.
We won by luck alone. A nurse came by to ask for one of her videos back and found Murdock with one leg outside the window, a dazed expression on his face. They had their hands clutched around his arms, forcing him to leave. But we stopped them. Two orderlies managed to hold on to Murdock, to keep him inside his room. His "friends" fled, the marks of their tyres are still on the road outside.
But they spoke to him. And my plans are undone. Not that I wanted to hide anything from him, just that I knew the influence they have over him, he wouldn't understand, he's too innocent!
He'll escape. I know it. Children argue with their parents, plotting and planning they tie up a can of beans and their favourite comic in a bundle and creep out of the window late at night. I've seen it before. They don't come back. Don't understand.
So I have to make sure he can't escape. It's against my training, but much of my life is. I have to go with my instincts, isn't that what they say?
I'm having Murdock moved up to the disturbed ward. He'll be on a high floor...and in a padded cell.
But it's all for him. All for his good. I'm not doing this out of choice, just that I can't let him leave!
I visit him every day. Take a book, read to him, talk to him...try. He's curled up in the corner, arms buckled tight through the white straightjacket to stop him from hurting himself. At first, the first few days, he tried to reason with me. He wanted to know why. He knew I lied to them, knew why the phone was removed and why he was there. But he didn't know why.
I tried to reach out. I...I touched him, I admit it. But he drew back, spat at me, called me names.
Remember at the start? How bad it was then? The men who came for him in the night through the rain with their guns, and he would scream at me phrases in a language I didn't understand. He called me names, spat at me. He believed I was the enemy then. He believes it now.
He doesn't talk to me now, but I still talk to him. Like when he would sit in the corner, lost in his head, eyes unfocussed, mouth slack. I spoke to him.
I tell him they don't care about him. That they abandoned him. That they're the cause of his depression, that he's sick.
I turn his head to focus on me and I tell him with my eyes and my heart shouting yes! that all he has to do to get better, to cure himself, is to let them go.
Three weeks now, I think I'm making progress. There was a break-in last week. The A-Team broke into his old room. But he wasn't there. And they don't know where he is. I expect they'll give up soon. The deal they had was sweet, but not worth too much. It's not as if they care.
Now, when I tell him this, he does respond. Before, he would argue, he screamed at me that they were his friends. I out-argued him, and I think he's coming round. He still tells me "no", but it's not as sure.
Like false devils, when deprived of them too long he sees what they really are. He gets depressed when they're gone. The longer they're gone, the more depressed. And before, I thought it was right to let him go. But it's like drugs. What they give him; it's not real happiness. All he has to do is break through this barrier, this period of unhappiness; he'll be better for it.
That's what I tell all my boys. But it'll work this time.
We searched his room, but I didn't find anything I thought he could use to escape. So today, we removed his straightjacket. He's still quite unresponsive. When threatened, he sometimes goes into his own head to escape. Like a boy hiding in his room. He'll have to come out sooner or later.
It's odd though. Playing this game. We put a tray of food in the room today, to show him he could feed himself (of course counting the cutlery and checking everything). I watched for hours. He just sat in the corner, staring at the wall, arms held round him like they were still in the straightjacket. And when I left to find a nurse, to help me to feed him, he ate it all. In the two minutes I was gone. And he took nothing.
He asked! Don't you see? He's coming through it! Today, I spoke to him for over an hour, telling him I cared, and trying to convince him his friends were false. He didn't speak a word, just stared through me. But as I turned to go, he asked.
"How long will you keep me here?" His voice a little rough, he hadn't spoken for over a month.
"Until you're better. Until you don't need them any more." He knows this. I tell him this. But I would do anything to hear him speak.
"What if I lie? Wait for you to take me back...escape..." His voice failed him. I think there were tears in his eyes. He knew that would not be the right thing to do.
"You couldn't lie to me, Murdock. I understand you."
He started to cry. Exactly like a small boy. I put my arms around him and pulled him close, and for once he didn't push me away. He didn't respond in any way, but he didn't reject me.
I calmed him; let him cry as much as he wanted. And we talked. Really talked, for the first time in ages. We argued slowly, as I felt him believe me.
He knows. He understands what they are. After all, where are they?
Phone calls. Doctors from other hospitals asking me where Murdock was, and I told them he was still here, informed them of his condition.
It's odd. I suppose that the A-Team were trying to find a replacement for Murdock in the same position. A helicopter pilot in a mental institution. After all, it worked so well before. They must have, mentioned Murdock's name perhaps. Asked for someone like him, like in a pet shop. And the other doctors, not managing to see past Peck's deception, told them Murdock was still here.
I still think they'll give up. Not that it matters now, Murdock is nearly cured. He won't go back to them.
He's reading now. Shakespeare, Milton, all the books he used to read. The ones he read when he just got back from the "missions". When he was still drugged up with their fake happiness. Only now it's real.
He reads, he eats. He hasn't disappeared into his own fantasy world since being put in disturbed. And the others, the other doctors are making noises that he should be put back. I managed to convince them before, told them he smashed the window to escape, and they let me put him in disturbed. But now...they don't understand. It's all for his own good. And I want him to leave, I do, but he's so safe. A little longer.
I've taken precautions, I know what to do. Murdock helped me with that. I thought that the A-Team might try to break into my office, to find Murdock or someone like him. So he told me how to make sure.
Little things they moved, disturbed, that I could tell. Papers moved, copied. My drawers closed properly, instead of part way open like he told me to do.
They were here. And I wonder why I didn't think of it before.
"Colonel Decker?" I told him all about Murdock's condition, how I believed the A-Team had tried to spring him for a job. Understandably, he came straight away. I didn't tell him I had met them, or that the Team had used him before. I have to protect him, above everything else. And the soldiers posted round the hospital are helping.
Decker tried to question Murdock. But I stopped him. He's not well. When he is, he'll want to talk to him. Murdock said he wasn't sure. He knows they were using him now. But I'm not sure if he'll ever lose the link he has with them.
He still feels responsible for them. Maybe he thinks, on some level, he should have stopped them. In the same way he blamed himself for the war he couldn't control, he blames himself for letting them use him. That maybe he was making them worse.
We'll have to work on it.
They tried. Odd. Two months after making the decision to cure Murdock of the A-Team, they still try to get him back. Maybe I should have attempted to heal them too. Perhaps they suffer from some sort of mental disorder, that led them to violate Murdock in this way for so many years.
They knocked out the soldiers, and managed to get into Murdock's room. Technically a cell, but to him, a room. They must have taken a key from my keyring, copied it somehow, and waited for their chance.
But finally, I am proved right. Proved successful. They woke Murdock up in the middle of the night. He was clever, my boy. He left his room, walked downstairs, and then he made his move. He could have left, taken the easy road, but he chose me. He screamed for all he was worth, ran to the orderly station and got help. The A-Team tried to steal him, force him to go with them, but he fought, and the soldiers off-duty turned up fast.
They got away, but Murdock remains. And this is the last evidence that he is cured. He loves me. And I want to show him freedom.
He moved out of his cell today, back into his room. I kept it exactly as he left it, except for the few small things I took up to him. Clothes, books, you know.
It was odd, seeing him there. I'm used to seeing a different Murdock in that room - the loud, upset Murdock. The sick boy. Seeing the cured boy there was a little odd, but I dismissed it. I'm a doctor. It was nothing, I know.
I kept my son's room the same, the day he left. It was just traces of that. No problem.
He's so eager! Already he wants me to take him outside. I told him the VA was planning an outing for next weekend, but he couldn't wait. He wants to go tomorrow. A picnic, in the park. I can't wait to show him everything he's missed over these past few months - no. Years. That's how long he's known the A-Team. That's how long he's lost.
I'm half tempted to ask my wife to come, but I don't want to share Murdock with her until he's completely ready. Best not to risk it.
He wears a little backpack, filled with I don't know what. He was packing it as I came in. I suppose he wanted something familiar. He doesn't go outside often.
It must be that. He has his stuffed bear with him, holding it carefully in the park.
As we left, two soldiers automatically fell in behind us, to escort us while we left. His face fell like a child's, deprived of his day out. He didn't have to ask for us to be alone, I simply knew. That's how close we are. It took a little persuading to get this day together, alone, but I think the soldiers are getting bored. I shall ask them to leave soon, anyway. The A-Team know they can't get to Murdock. They won't bother us again. We drove to the park. Murdock pushed the bear's head out of the window, making dog noises. I laughed along with him.
When we got there, the sun was shining, the birds were singing. Everything was perfect. I wanted to show him everything, and he wanted to see it all. After maybe an hour of just walking around the park, talking quietly, pointing out things, my arm around his shoulders so he didn't feel lost, we stopped to eat. He picked the spot. I let him.
Just near the edge of the park, in a secluded spot surrounded by trees. We could watch the world go by, but unless you knew the spot, you couldn't really see it. I wonder how he knew? Just inquisitive and curious, I guess. Like me.
He asked me the time, and when I replied, smiled a little. I reassured him that we didn't have to go just then, but he cut me off with a wave of his hand.
"Do you know how I knew about this spot? Face used to bring me here." I didn't want to talk about the A-Team, ruin our day out, but I didn't want to stop him. As his doctor, I know it's important for him to get these memories out of his system.
"Sure, they couldn't spend much time with me. But Face and I always chose this spot, to have a quiet lunch, whenever we could. Sometimes the others joined us. A quiet, leisurely lunch."
I made some "oooh, how interesting" noises, and attempted to change the subject, but he wasn't listening to me any more.
"Course, sometimes it rained. Then we'd go sit at the diner, just across there. He'd tell me about the guys, I'd tell him about the VA." He paused. "Richter, if we went to the diner right now, what would I order?"
He was staring at me. My mind raced. It wasn't a topic we covered in therapy, I was rarely around for his lunches..."I don't know." I hung my head in shame, still keeping an eye on him.
"That's okay. I mean, we rarely go out, right? How could you know?" We smiled at each other, and I continued eating.
"Did you know I was allergic to pineapple?" Murdock held up one of the little cakes I had brought, the pineapple clearly showing through. I was shocked. Pineapple is one of my favourite foods, I didn't stop to consider...
"What's my favourite colour? What do I like to drink? What did my mother call me when I was little? What was the colour of my first bike?"
I couldn't answer any of these questions. Was I supposed to? I didn't know the answers...I'd like to, but I didn't know right then. I started to speak, tell him I was sorry we didn't know more about each other, but someone else spoke.
"Blue." Behind me. I jumped up, turned around. Peck. He wasn't smiling. His face looked worn, hard, not helped by the gun in his hand. "Your first bike was blue, Murdock. Your grandpa took the wheels off his shopping trolley to make training wheels for it, and you used to ride it round the house. It drove your grandma mad."
I couldn't speak. This couldn't be coincidence, could it? Maybe it was. I didn't want to turn around to see Murdock, to take my eyes off Peck. I had thought he was cured! He was, he had to be. This was coincidence, they were trying to brainwash my boy.
"Yep. Chalk up one for the ol' Faceman." The tone in his voice, and the way he was speaking told me they were getting through to him. With a scream, I knew I had to do something to stop them. I rushed Peck, knocked him to the ground before he had a chance to fire. On top of him, I pressed my hands against his throat. I'm bigger than he is. I had gravity on my side. He tried to pull my hands away. He couldn't.
I wanted him to leave us alone. I could feel him dying. But.
Someone pushed me off him. Hurtled into me. I was left face up on the ground. Winded. He came into my view, his gun in hand. I expected Hannibal, BA. Not my boy.
Murdock pointed the gun square at my chest. Over to my left I could hear Peck's hoarse breathing, and someone talking to him quietly. They were all there, all three of them. But Murdock was the one who attacked me.
"But you're cured!" I wheezed, trying to get my breath back from the blow.
"I am now." He didn't look away, didn't smile. There was no emotion. Just force. He meant what he said. Hannibal appeared next to him, hatred apparent on his face. Murdock handed him the gun, and reached down to pull me up.
"You said you'd know when I was cured. You said you understood me." He leaned in close, still holding my hand. For a moment, I felt hope.
"Psyche." He pushed me back. I stumbled a little, but kept my balance.
"We knew you wouldn't let me go if they broke me out, so when they came for me we devised a plan. We've planned this since then. Since you tried to brainwash me." He spat on the ground, as if even the word was distasteful.
"No, not brainwash. Murdock, I love you." I wanted to hug him, show him what I was saying, but two of them had guns pointed at me. At the word love, however, they all reacted. Murdock was the only one I saw.
"Love? This is love? Taking away the people I need, imprisoning me? That's love to you?"
"You don't need these people, they abandoned you. Remember the depression. Who helped you? Who always stopped you from killing yourself?"
Murdock didn't speak. Hannibal called his name, quietly. I wanted to kill him for saying it.
"You're right. I was depressed, and you helped. But I wasn't depressed because of what happened to me on those missions. I was depressed because of that place." He looked at me again, and I could see something there. "I woke up every day with the people I was one day going to be. Your nurses force-fed me pills, and injected me with happy drugs that didn't work. Is it any wonder I was depressed?" He was close now, close to me. I still wanted to hug him. It wasn't too late.
"They were never there for you. Only I was." This was my closing argument. This was the argument that convinced him the first time.
Murdock laughed in my face, a laugh that went on for a long time, and ended with him almost crying. His face twisted. "They were on the run, you jackass! How could they visit me? Every minute they got free they spent with me, and I never asked for any more. You helped me, but you were a symptom of that place."
I started to argue again, but I could tell it was all over. He cut me off. "No. Shut up. You spoke for two months. It's my turn. You think you know me just through what happened in therapy. Wrong. You don't know anything. Sure, I might tell you stuff I don't tell other people. But hell, I tell the IRS stuff I don't tell other people. It doesn't mean anything. You and I are not friends. We don't have a father and son relationship."
The four of them moved closer together. Peck had his arm around Murdock's shoulders. The others pointed guns at me. Murdock took one last look around, then moved Peck's arm. He came toward me again.
"These are my friends. And we're leaving. You shall never see me again." He punched me in the face as hard as possible, and I went down. I heard them leave, tried to scramble after them, but I couldn't see. I heard a car start, drive off quickly.
It gets easier now. I understand where my mistakes were. With my son, and with Murdock. I like to think that I'm getting closer.
Odd. That Murdock's remarks should have resembled my son's note. When my boy left home, and we never saw him again. He blamed me too.
But young boys are ungrateful. I still hear stories about the A-Team, just as my wife and I still receive letters from our son. Short notes. "I'm alright. Don't worry." And yes, it's hard. But it gets easier.
This new one is different. He has a mother who smothers him. I can help him deal with that. And we get on so well.
All I need to do is show him I love him. He'll come around. He'll thank me one day.
I'm a doctor. It's my job to know these things.
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