Cat and Mouse
Murdock was amused, shall we say, at Face's effort to change the tyre of the vette. "You could help, you know!" Face muttered as he wheeled the tyre to the back of the car and slung it in the boot.
"Someone's gotta look after Billy." Murdock replied sheepishly. Face sighed as he tightened up the wheel nuts. Sometimes, just sometimes, he could strangle Murdock. Still at the same time he would, and had, taken a bullet for him in a second. Face clambered back into the car.
"Ok, we're late. Let's go," he said as he rejoined the carriageway. It was a glorious sunny afternoon, warm, just the kind of day to be driving.
Face weaved his way through the traffic like a knife through butter. Murdock fiddled with the radio finally settling on a heavy rock station. Pantera's "Walk" bellowed out.
Face frowned. "What's this?" he asked.
"Billy's fave at the moment. Can't see the attraction myself." Murdock replied, his head bobbing along to the music. Face rolled his eyes and sighed as he sped down the road gently squeezing the brakes. No response.
"Murdock, get Hannibal on the cell phone now!" he snapped.
Shocked, Murdock did as he was told, as Face he struggled to keep control of the vette.
"Murdock tell him we're 10 minutes away on Bracknell Pass, and we've got no brakes!" Face continued.
"Murdock we're on our way to you," Hannibal responded through the receiver. Face rounded the bend wide, the wheels screeched as he frantically tried to slow down. The next bend was even tighter.
"Murdock brace yourself!" he said. "This is probably gonna hurt!" He yelled as he lost control and the vette flew off the road, almost in slow motion to the watching eyes of BA and Hannibal, who were helpless to stop what was going on in front of them.
Hannibal scrambled down the hill with BA in hot pursuit. The vette had come to rest on its side, smoke billowing out from the engine. Hannibal reached the car first. Murdock was slumped to one side, half out of the battered vette. Face was slumped across the gear stick unconscious. Hannibal gently dragged Murdock out and away. BA lifted Face off the dashboard, his legs had been crushed under the wheel. BA eased Face out and carried him away from the smoking vehicle. His pride and joy, twisted and about to go up like a roman candle. BA laid Face down and slowly checked his injuries.
"His legs are broken Hannibal, chest bruised, deep gash in his head. He's breathing ok though." He said, slipping into medic mode easily. Hannibal nodded.
"Murdock's breathing is a bit laboured and he's got bruising to his head. I think he's broke a couple of ribs. We must move them. BA takes a quick look at the vette. I want to know if this was an accident!" BA nodded in agreement. He came back within seconds.
"Brake leads been cut Hannibal." He reported angrily. The anger welled inside Hannibal. Stockwell--had to be!
"Let's get them to Maggie's." He seethed.
Maggie was waiting for them at the door when they arrived, ready to triage the unconscious pair. As she worked, Hannibal paced. BA glowered in the corner. He was angry, very angry. He'd had the same thoughts as Hannibal. Stockwell!
Maggie turned to them. "Ok, they're stable. It's a bit of a bloody miracle, but they are. Murdock's broken two ribs, but not badly. I've strapped them, his breathing's a lot easier. Face has two thoroughly crushed legs. I've done what I can, but they need surgery. The gash on his head is deep, but I've stitched that. I haven't sedated them yet, because of the head injuries. Now what happened?" She finished.
"I think Stockwell tried to kill them, Maggie. The brakes were cut on the vette." Hannibal replied. "I am just glad he doesn't know about you."
Maggie frowned. "Why, I thought you guys worked for him?"
"Basically we resigned. Because well…." Hannibal trailed off, not making eye contact with Maggie.
"Because of me." Came a voice from behind Maggie. Maggie whirled round. Face was awake, struggling to sit up. "Aghhh! My legs!" He gasped.
Hannibal ran to his bed.
"Stay still Lt.," he said helping Face sit up. "Your legs are broken," he finished.
"Murdock?" Face said through gritted teeth.
"Present, and accounted for." Murdock replied as he too began to stir.
"What did you mean, because of you?" Maggie asked. Hannibal maneuvered himself beside Face to support him better.
Face grimaced in pain. "Let's just say, me and Murdock are kind of loose ends." He replied.
Maggie frowned she knew there was something more but decided not push the point. "How's the pain Face?" BA asked.
"Excruciating!" Face replied honestly. Hannibal knew this meant he really was in agony, as usually Face would play down his discomfort.
"Face, your legs were crushed in the accident, they need surgery. The only man I can trust to come here is Douglas Barton. A surgeon from General. I'll give you some painkillers, but it will only take the edge off." Maggie said. Face nodded, anything was better than the agony he was in now. Maggie injected Face with morphine. As the drug took effect, his head dropped to rest on Hannibal's chest as his eyes closed.
"Don't worry, it's a side effect. Makes you sleepy." Maggie was quick to say. She turned to Murdock who was also wide-awake, but with a humdinger of a headache. "How you feel, HM?" She asked.
"Sore, but I'll live." He replied sitting up wincing at the pain his ribs were giving him.
Maggie handed him some pills and a glass of water.
"This'll help." She said smiling.
"Thank you. How's Face?" He asked looking over to where Face was.
"I'm ok," came the soft reply. "Just two busted legs. Had worse." He mumbled.
"Are you sure you can trust this man Maggie?" Hannibal asked pensively. He knew better than to ask but he felt very protective of the Lt.
Maggie nodded. "He's the best at what he does Hannibal."
"Ok, call him. Get him here quickly." Hannibal replied noting the still pained expression on Peck's face.
Hannibal strummed his fingers on the kitchen table . He never had been very good at the waiting game. Murdock had joined them with BA's help. He had insisted on getting up.
"This can't carry on Hannibal." Murdock said flatly. "I mean, if it is Stockwell , he isn't gonna give up easily." Hannibal looked at Murdock intently.
"Don't you think I know that captain? But at the moment, we have to lie low. For Face's sake and yours, till he's a little more mobile, anyway. Then, the mouse will turn round and bite the cat. Figuratively speaking that is." Hannibal replied.
"Makes sense Colonel," Murdock replied.
Six long tortuous hours later, Maggie appeared from Face's room. She looked haggard and pale. Douglas followed closing the door behind him.
"We've done what we can. We've reset the bones in each leg, and they were badly crushed. He's heavily sedated, as the pain of our actions would be worse than the pain before." He said. "He'll be uncomfortable for a while."
"How long till he's gonna be well enough to be wheeled in a wheelchair?" Hannibal asked.
Murdock shot him a filthy look. "Faceman's gonna love that." He said sarcastically.
"He hasn't got a lot of choice, Murdock. From what they have said those legs are gonna take a long time to mend, time we haven't got standing still." Hannibal replied.
"It's going to be at least a few days. Depends on Face, really." Maggie replied.
Face woke up a little disorientated to say the least. He recognized the room and as he sat up. He remembered why he was there. He grimaced as he sat up, his legs were very painful. Hannibal was asleep in the chair next to him. He shuffled up the bed trying to get comfortable. His legs were like lead. He took a deep breath, and couldn't help but let out a not-so-quiet groan as the pain kicked in.
Hannibal immediately woke up and sprang to his feet. "Hey Lt. You're wake. Take it easy, " he said.
"Hannibal, we at Maggie's?" Face asked.
Hannibal nodded. "Yeah kid. Been here for a week. You've been sedated because of the pain your legs would give you."
Face snorted. "Guess what I'm feelin now is sposed to be easier?" He replied. The mischievous twinkle in his eyes evident, for which Hannibal was grateful.
Maggie walked through the door and smiled.
"You must be feeling better Face, you're almost whining." She joked. Face looked up and gave a broad smile in return, one that had and would break a thousand hearts. "I'm doin my best Maggie. How are my legs doin?" His jovial manner becoming a little more serious.
"We've pinned them, and as far as we can tell their healing. How'd you fancy a go in your new wheels?" she asked.
Face frowned "Wheels?" he asked. Murdock and BA appeared at the door wheeling a shiny red wheelchair.
Murdock with a broad grin across his face. "Hey Faceyman, wanna test drive?" Face swallowed hard a little taken aback to say the least.
"I am not going in that. What am I, an invalid?" He replied glaring uncompromisingly at them, crossing his arms.
Hannibal shook his head. "No, but we need you mobile. C'mon Face, give it a try." Hannibal said sourly.
Face sighed. 'It would be nice to be out of the bed,' he thought, and motioned for them to bring the chair over. Gently BA lowered Face into it. His legs were gently lowered into the footrests, and Face winced at the shooting pains in his legs.
"You ok man?" BA asked concerned he may have hurt his friend.
"Fandabbidozy!" Face replied through gritted teeth. He squeezed his eyes shut waiting for the pain to subside. As it eased off, he exhaled slowly, and opened his eyes. It was nice to be out of that bloody bed, if painful. He shuffled in the chair and then smiled.
"Well, you said mobile didn't you? Well let's move!" He chirped putting his hands on the wheels.
"Wait a sec, Face," BA replied. "You're gonna need these--" He handed Face a pair of fingerless gloves. "to protect your hands man!" He continued
"Thank you." Face replied putting the gloves on. He then wheeled him slowly towards the door. "Man, this is hard work." He muttered a little breathless.
"That's what we're here for." Murdock said, as he pushed Face the rest of the way.
Stockwell wasn't a happy man. He stood at the top of the hill, eyeing the still burning vette. His dark glasses glinting in the sun. His men scurrying round it like ants. He didn't like loose ends. Murdock and Peck were a liability he could do without. His son. All he could think about was protecting his memory. He didn't give a shit what he'd supposedly done. He grinded his teeth as he walked back to the car. This unwanted game of cat and mouse was only just beginning.
Face sat on the floor of the bathroom. Somewhere between the toilet and the wheelchair he'd lost his balance and was now sitting on the floor. Having pulled the jogging bottoms up, therefore recovering an ounce of modesty/dignity. He threw the soap, which was next to him, angrily at the door. This was beyond degrading, his anger welled. As the door opened, Murdock stood there concern in his eyes. Face couldn't even look at him, his complexion reddening.
"You gonna watch the circus, or help?" Face snapped, regretting his words almost immediately. Murdock walked forward and helped Face back into the wheelchair. "I can take it from here, I'm not completely helpless." Face seethed, as he wheeled himself out through the door and out through the makeshift ramp, out in to the star-filled night. Murdock watched him, tears in his eyes. Face's attitude was getting worse. He could see his best friend tearing himself apart, unable to meet his own basic needs. BA and Hannibal were asleep. Murdock followed Face out the door and sat down on the grass beside him. Face's had his head in his hands and was sobbing, uncontrollably.
"It's ok, Face…." Murdock started.
"Murdock, this very far from, O bloody K. I mean look at me, worse than useless." Face replied, wiping his tears away and glaring at the wheelchair. "I mean, jeeze. I've survived worse, I know, but this!" he said, thumping the wheels. "It's downright degrading."
Murdock shook his head slowly, his eyes burning into Face. "Don't you get it?" he asked.
"What?" Face asked frowning, looking at Murdock.
"We're your family. You don't have to be the big macho, lady-killer guy with us. Face, it's pure luck we weren't killed in that crash. So your pride's dented, big whoop! Grow up! We're not taking care of you out of pity. It's what a family does…. take care of its own."
"As if I'd know what a family is or does, Murdock. I've never felt so useless." Face replied.
Murdock sighed. "So the last 15 years haven't shown you anything?" He replied, trying hard to contain his anger, mixed with hurt, at Face's attitude. Jeeze he loved this man, and deep down Face knew it. Face glowered. He knew he'd just hurt Murdock terribly, still, it wasn't him stuck in the bloody wheelchair. He took the brake off and started to wheel himself away.
"No, you don't!" Murdock snapped, his eyes filling with tears. "Don't you dare leave without finishing this." Murdock leant over Face. Leaning in towards Peck, his hands resting on the arms of the wheelchair. Face and Murdock glared at each other, both angry; both hurting, both scared of what Stockwell was going to do next. Their faces almost touching, their heart's racing. No words were necessary as their eyes bored into each other's, uncompromising emotions erupting between them.
Face's breath was sweet to Murdock's olfactory senses; he struggled to keep his emotions under control. He burned inside, wanting to hold Peck tight, reassure him. Whilst, at the same time, the thought of throwing him into the lake was also appealing. Face felt the anger in the hazelnut eyes that bore down on him. He too felt the sweet nectar of Murdock's breath on his flushed skin. His heart raced. How could he hurt this wonderful man? He knew what Murdock was saying was true.
At that moment the world seemed to stop turning, they were all alone under the sparkling stars. Face put the palm of his hand to Murdock's cheek, as gentle as a kitten.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. Murdock's expression softened as he put his palm to Face's flushed and tearstained cheek.
"We'll get through this the way we always do," he said gently. "Together." He then moved forward and gave the warmest most reassuring hug Face had had in a very long time.