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Holding On To The Sky

Holding On To The Sky

By Leia Fee  

 

SUMMARY: Early days at the V.A.
WARNINGS/RATING: PG for distraught Murdock again, poor dab.
PARTS: Complete.

 

This was written as a sort of experiment after a fanfic workshop I went to used the format as an exercise in writing from different POVs.  Part one was the main character's POV , part too an outsider watching the events and part three the main character looking back and reflecting on what happened.

 

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 Part 1

 

The bright sunlight cast trembling, constantly moving shadows on the smooth grass as the wind shook the branches overhead.  On the lawn a patient was flying a kite, the brightly coloured fabric rippling in the air.

 

Murdock saw little of it.  He sat limply in the wheelchair, his eyes half closed and unfocused, his head listing slightly to one side.  A stronger than average gust ruffled his hair and parted the branches above the path, sending sunlight pouring onto his face.  It was perfect weather for flying.  Murdock closed his eyes all the way, shutting out both the sunlight and the unwelcome thought.  Better to think about nothing at all than think about flying when he couldn't.  When he was stuck down here, trapped, alone--he cut off that thought too.  He tried to force his mind to emptiness and had almost succeeded when the familiar tones of Dr. Richter's voice intruded.

 

"Hello, Mr. Murdock.  How are you feeling today?"  His tone was always polite and cheerful but had an undercurrent of persistence that Murdock found hard to ignore.  He did his best though, his expression remained unchanged and he gave no sign of acknowledgement in response to the greeting.

 

"Enjoying the weather?" Richter asked.

 

Murdock's eyes flew open as he felt his stomach turn over in something approaching fear.  He wondered if Richter could tell.  Sometimes the doctor's seemingly casual chat struck far to close to his own thoughts for comfort.  Murdock took a slow calming breath.  He wasn't thinking about the weather, he reminded himself.  He wasn't thinking about anything.  Seeking a distraction he let his gaze wander to the kite still skipping above the lawn.  Richter followed his gaze.  He had noticed of course, Murdock thought resentfully.  Why couldn't he just mind his own business?  Immediately the angry though seemed stupid and Murdock wondered why he'd thought it in the first place.  It unsettled him, the uncanny knack Richter seemed to have of seeing straight through him.  No one had ever been able to do that.  No one except Hannibal and look what had happened to him.

 

Murdock felt another wave of anger.  At himself this time, at his lack of self control.  If he didn't want to think about the weather and he didn't want to think about being stuck here, then he definitely didn't want to think about the rest of the team.

 

He squeezed his eye shut briefly, and when he opened them his expression was again calm.  He thought of nothing at all.

 

But there was Richter again, this time plucking at his wrist, pushing something into his hand.  Murdock had withdrawn so far that for a moment he found himself watching Richter's lips move with no understanding of the words coming from them.

 

"...thought you might like to borrow Mr. Wimborne's kite."  The world drifted back into focus.  Murdock felt the string slip through his fingers as a gust sent the kite upwards, felt Richter's hand tighten over his to keep the kite from being lost.  Resentment rose within him again.  That's right--give the crazy man a toy to keep him quiet.  But the kite had started to fall and without thinking he curled his fingers around the string and twitched it to send the kite soaring upwards once more.  He felt it tug back as it climbed into the wind and a flicker of a smile crossed his face as he twisted his hand to send it swooping down before letting it climb again.

 

It wasn't like flying.  Not even close.  But he could feel the way the wind tugged at the kite, knew he could use that wind, could make the kite dance up there.

 

He stared up at it, watched it strain at the limit of the string, as high as it could go and suddenly he was overtaken with disgust.  It wasn't flying.  Not really.  Really it was just tied down here.  As trapped and earthbound as he was.  With an inarticulate wail of frustration he let go of the string and snatched his hand away.  He jammed his eyes closed and twisted his face away until his cheek was pressed tight against his shoulder and he could pretend the world didn't exist.

 

Part 2

 

Andy pushed the wheelchair through the gardens, choosing a route almost at random.  It was a glorious day and the grounds were filled with people out making the most of it.  If it wasn't for the generous scattering of white-uniformed hospital staff it could have been any public park in the city.

 

In what could be an exceedingly stressful job, he found these walks a welcome break.  Even though they could get depressing when the patients were as unresponsive as his current charge.

 

He broke off from this chain of thought to greet Dr. Richter as he approached.  Richter smiled in greeting and dropped to a crouch in front of the wheelchair to be at eye level with Murdock.

 

"Hello, Mr. Murdock.  How are you feeling today?" he asked brightly.  Andy couldn't help feeling he was being rather optimistic and sure enough there was no response.  Richter carried on regardless, apparently willing to carry the one-sided conversation himself if need be.

 

"Enjoying the weather?"

 

Murdock made an odd gulping sound as though he had something caught in his throat.  Andy stepped around the chair in concern but Richter waved him back.  He stood up and walked alongside as Andy continued along the edge of the lawn.

 

Andy watched Mr. Wimborne with his kite for a few seconds and was surprised, when he looked down, to see that Murdock also had his head tilted back to watch.  It was the first time Andy could remember having seen him show even the slightest interest in his surroundings in all the months he'd been there.  Richter had obviously noticed it too because a thoughtful expression came over his face and he strode across the lawn to Wimborne.  They talked for a few minutes and when Richter returned he had the kite with him.  He dropped back to a crouch at the side of the wheelchair and put the string into Murdock's hand.  He had to hold it there with his own as Murdock ignored him completely.

 

"Here you go, Murdock.  I thought you might like to borrow Mr. Wimborne's kite."

 

There was still no response and, with no one to guide it, the kite began to arc down towards the ground.  Andy felt an irrational surge of disappointment, although it had been clear that Richter had only tried the idea on the off chance it might provoke some reaction.

 

Andy didn't see the jerk of the string but he let out a surprised laugh as the kite suddenly leapt skywards again.  He watched as it banked and dived overhead until a sudden yell from Murdock made him jump in alarm.  His first thought, as the kite blew away, was that he must have hurt himself.  It was hard to imagine that any mere emotional reaction could cause such an awful painful-sounding cry.  But Murdock was uninjured and Andy couldn't understand what could have upset him so badly and so suddenly.

 

Richter shook his head sadly and stood up.

 

"Take him to his room and get his settled down, Andy.  I'll be along in a minute."

 

Andy nodded and turned the chair around.

 

"All right, Mr. Murdock.  Take it easy."  He murmured soothing words almost on autopilot but Murdock had fallen silent again and there was no response.

 

Part 3

 

Until Doc Richter mentioned it I wasn’t sure whether that thing with the kite had really happened.  I did remember it, sort of, but that whole time is kind of a blur.  I liked it a blur.  It was easier that way and there was nothing at all I wanted to see clearly.  I mean wasn't exactly Mr. Normal even before I cracked up and without flying and without the team there was no reason for me to be anyone at all.

 

Richter's about the... 1... 2... 3rd most stubborn person I know though, after B.A. and Hannibal, and he kept on at me.  Poor guy.  It's not like I'm anyone's idea of a model patient.

 

Still, kite, yeah.  I was doing a pretty good job of ignoring planet Earth when Richter slaps this kite in my hand.  And I pretty much ignored that too.  Right up until it started to fall.  I still wasn't particularly thinking about it, but having spent the past however-many years concentrating on not letting things fall out of the sky, I'd fixed it before I even had time to decide to fix it.  If that makes any sense at all.

 

I don't know what reaction Richter was expecting.  Maybe he just wanted any reaction at all.  I don't think he exactly got what he was looking for.  I was ignoring him again, but this time to concentrate on the kite.  I was hanging onto that string like it was the last thing holding me in the world.  I could feel the sky at the other end.  Lift and drag and air and gravity.  Things I could understand.  Things I could control.  And control, even just of a kite was something I hadn't had in a very long time.

 

And here's the really weird coincidence.  The last time I'd been grounded for any length of time, with an injury in 'Nam, Face had brought me a kite to play with.  God knows where he got it from.  It did have kind of a home made look so I suspect B.A. may have had a hand in it, though I didn't dare ask him--he gets kind of testy when you catch him caring.

 

I heard once, or maybe I read it someplace, that flying a kite is like holding hands with the sky.  Well holding hands wasn't enough.  Not nearly.  And after I'd been trying so hard not to think about flying and not to think about the team, one little thing like that managed to smack me round the head with how much I missed both.

 

I didn't exactly handle it well but it was moments like those that stood out of the fog.  That kept enough of me tied to this world that I was still here for the rest of the team to find when they did get a chance to come looking for me.  That reminded me why I was still holding on.  That I was still me.

 


Holding On To The Sky by Leia Fee

 

 


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