by Wendy W (with a LOT of help from above)
Summary: Sometimes, we just need a little help finding the silver lining.
The team doesn't belong to me. I'm just borrowing one of them for something
Comments: Sure, but be gentle. This one is special to Cathy and I.
Author's Notes: This story was a gift for Cathy, who needed a little help finding the bright side of an unkind real life. She has graciously agreed to let me post it, in the hope that it might help some of her list sibs find the
silver lining in their clouds, which seem far too numerous lately.
On a bench in a quiet, well-shaded area of the park sat a young woman. Her head hung down, and her limp posture projected an air of utter defeat. He couldn't remember ever seeing anyone look so lost and sad.
He turned to his friend and said, "You go on, Face. I need to take care of something."
"Murdock, Hannibal wants us to lay low after this last case. Don't you think we should head home?" Face questioned.
"It's all right, pal. This is really important. I'll check in later, okay?"
He was gone before Face could respond.
As Face started to leave, he glanced back and noticed the pilot was walking toward a young woman seated on a bench. 'A woman. HE had been tossed aside for a woman! And by his BEST FRIEND! Just what was this world coming to, anyway?' he thought as he headed toward the parking lot.
Meanwhile, Murdock was cautiously approaching the young woman. He didn't want to startle her, although he sensed that in her present state, a bomb could probably explode beneath the bench and she wouldn't hear it.
He sat down beside her and coughed, in an attempt to gain her attention.
She glanced up at the interruption in her reflections, and took in the man seated beside her. He was tall and slender, with the warmest brown eyes she'd ever seen. They reminded her of melted chocolate, both inviting and comforting at the same time. She wanted to speak to him, but her sense of desolation seemed to have robbed her of her ability to communicate.
As if reading her mind, the handsome man spoke.
"Uh, hi there. I didn't mean to bother you, but you kinda look like you could use a friend. Murdock, HM Murdock, at your service," he said, putting his hand forward in a welcoming gesture.
A small smile played on the young woman's lips, as she returned the gentle handshake.
When she still hadn't spoken, Murdock continued, "You know, I make it a rule never to name anyone who's visible, so I'd appreciate it if you could give me something to call you."
She released his hand and searched his face for any trace of sarcasm or malice. Instead, she found only kindness and sincerity, and was being drawn from her mental fog in order to respond.
"Cathy. My name is Cathy. I'm sorry if I seem a little unfriendly, it's just that...", she stopped and looked back at the ground.
Suddenly, she felt his warm hand gently touch her chin, and lift her head so she was gazing into his soulful eyes.
"Listen here, Cathy. You are far too pretty to look so sad! You want to talk about it? I always heard it's a lot easier to talk about stuff with a stranger, and trust me, I've got being strange covered. So, fire away!"
"But, Mr. Mur..."
"No, no. Just 'Murdock'. I've been called a lot of things, but 'Mister' ain't one of 'em," he said, smiling in a way that immediately began to penetrate her gloom.
She found herself smiling back and said, "Okay, 'Murdock' it is, but you don't understand! Life just seems to be handing me nothing but lemons, right now. I finally graduated from college, but I'm having trouble finding a job. Not to mention the problems I'm having with some friends! I know it doesn't sound like much, but I just can't seem find the silver lining, you know? All I see are the negatives, right now." She stopped. The smile having left her face, she continued, "Don't mind me, Murdock. I'm sure you have more important things to do then listen to me whine about my life."
"Not to worry, Cathy. I happen to be an expert at listening to people whine. As a matter of fact, my best friend has made whining an art form!" he said, laughingly, but then turned serious again as he looked at his new friend. "Talking about your problems and worries isn't called 'whining' where I come from, it's called 'therapy'. So, what do you say we take a few of those lemons and make some lemonade. Let's you and me try and find that silver lining you were talking about! I happen to spend a lot of time in the clouds, so I think I have a pretty good idea of where to look!"
He jumped up enthusiastically, and reached for her hand.
She looked at him long, and carefully. She didn't know this man, and had never seen him before, so why should she trust him? In this day and age, it was not only unwise, but downright dangerous to go anywhere with a complete stranger. So what was it about this guy that made her feel so safe? Trusting her gut instinct, and becoming increasingly curious about this amazingly sensitive man, she took his hand, and rose to her feet, smiling.
"Okay, Murdock. Let's see where you keep that silver lining I've misplaced."
Without further encouragement, he took off running, practically dragging her along behind him.
He didn't stop until they came to the entrance to the park's zoo.
He turned to her and announced "Okay, first stop on the 'Murdock and Cathy' world tour, the animal house. Here we will see a wide assortment of bears, baboons, and other beasties, but sadly, no Baracan Mudsuckers. THOSE are VERY rare."
She thought she heard him say, "thank goodness" under his breath, but she couldn't quite make it out.
Before she could ask for clarification, he had already dragged her into the first exhibit, the aquarium.
Before she knew it, they were standing side by side in a round room. The walls weren't made of plaster, however, they were made of glass, which was the only thing separating them from a breathtaking, undersea landscape. As she slowly turned, Cathy felt as though they were in a protective bubble, hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean, the arbitrary world of humans, safely left behind. They watched as vibrantly hued fish and other sea creatures, darted among the coral spires and caves that lined the bottom. Luminous greens, blues, yellows and reds seemed to be weaving themselves into an ever-changing watery rainbow. She realized she'd never seen such amazing colors before. It was as if nature knew that the ocean depths would provide the perfect canvas for the colorful brilliance of these silent, mystical creatures.
She stood looking around in awe, lost in the incredible tranquility that surrounded them, when Murdock leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Sometimes, you need to look down, when you're trying to find your way up!"
As she continued to gaze at the watery masterpiece before her, she knew that he was right. Somehow, just visiting this uncomplicated world that existed far beneath the waves, had already begun to make her feel better, although she couldn't explain why.
Murdock took her hand, and gently lead her back out into the sunlight.
"Well, what's next?" she asked with growing enthusiasm.
"Hmmm... how about the petting zoo?" he offered.
Feeling a little disappointed, she responded, "Why the petting zoo? We can see rabbits and chickens any day! Don't you think we ought to see something a little more, 'unusual'?"
Undaunted, he answered, "You haven't seen unusual until you've seen me sheer a sheep with a letter opener! Now, come on!"
Not sure whether or not he was serious, Cathy dutifully followed him to the small farm near the back of the zoo.
Murdock was practically jumping up and down by the time she caught up with him at the entrance to the small fenced-in area.
"Do you think I could ride the pony, or maybe slop the hogs?" he asked excitedly.
Inescapably ensnared by his child-like enthusiasm, she retorted, "Only if 'I' get to sheer the sheep!"
He looked at her with appreciation and awe, at having finally found a kindred spirit.
The moved around the barnyard, feeding some animals and petting others, and in general, having a wonderful time. They headed into the barn, and walked over toward a large table with a sort of makeshift pen on top of it. Suspended above the table, appeared to be a large light that both illuminated and warmed the enclosed area. As they approached the table, they understood it's purpose, for inside were numerous eggs and several fluffy chicks. Cathy felt overwhelmed by the tiny peeping creatures.
Before she knew it, Murdock was scooping one up to place in her hands. She looked around the barn hesitantly, and spotted a zoo employee looking at them and nodding in approval. She held the tiny creature in her hands, gently and protectively. She'd never before felt anything so soft, and as the tiny creature nestled into her hands for warmth, she felt a tear trickle silently down her face. Before she could set the tiny creature down, she felt Murdock's thumb as it gently wiped the tear away.
She set the ball of yellow fuzz back in the pen, and watched in amazement as a nearby egg began twitching with movement. Suddenly, a tiny beak nudged it's way through a small crack. A few minutes later, the beak was followed by a fluffy yellow head. It was a few minutes more before the little fella had broken free of his protective prison, and having succeeded, he fell into an exhausted slumber.
Cathy was mesmerized by the event, and almost missed Murdock's words.
"It's tough work, getting started in life. You just have to remember to pace yourself, and not try to take on the world, all at once."
She wasn't sure whether he was referring to the newly hatched chick, or her own recent emergence from the academic world, but it seemed that the sentiments applied to both. Somehow, she suddenly felt more at ease with her life.
She looked into the chocolate depths of her friends eyes, and wondered how anyone with such a childish delight for life, could still understand the depths of struggle and pain.
Without saying another word, they left the little barn and headed back toward the entrance of the zoo.
They wandered around for hours, eagerly exploring each exhibit, and pretending that the world beyond the gates had ceased to exist.
As they approached the zoo's exit, they spotted a small ice cream cart. Their eyes locked in mutual agreement, and they headed quickly toward it.
Murdock ordered a triple scoop extravaganza, choosing three flavors that had little business being in the same cart, let alone on the same cone.
Cathy selected a two scoop feast of chocolate, simple, yet indulgent, kind of like her new friend.
As they walked toward the exit, happily satisfying their sweet tooth's, they spotted a sign advertising hot air balloon rides.
Eyes aglow with adventure, Murdock tossed aside the remains of his frozen treat, grabbed Cathy's hand, and without consultation, charged toward the large field where the balloon was anchored.
Having barely finished her ice cream, and slightly out of breath from the 500 yard dash, Cathy dabbed at her mouth with a napkin, while studying the enormous silk creation that floated before her.
Less than enthusiastic about the prospect of being suspended hundreds of feet in the air with only a wicker basket for protection, she turned to Murdock to request a stay of execution. Her words were lost as she beheld the look of rapturous joy on his face. He seemed wholly transfixed by the floating object before him, as if he, too, were a creature of the air, who recognized a fellow wind dancer. Reining in her fears, she cast aside any thought of denying him this.
She took his hand and asked, "Well, what are we waiting for?"
He looked at her with sheer delight, and they hurried toward the balloon.
As the ground slipped away below them, he reached out and put his arm around her. He felt her shiver, as the breeze conspired with the setting sun to chill the air, and took off his jacket. He slipped it around her shoulders, and drew her against him.
They watched as the sun dipped closer and closer to the horizon, creating swirls of color around fluffy white clouds. Soon, everything became shrouded by the silver veil of dusk.
She heard his soft voice caress her ear as he whispered, "Well, is this the silver lining you were looking for?"
Then, he reached down, and gently lifting her chin, his lips met her's in a soft, tender kiss.