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This page last viewed: 2017-10-17 and has been viewed 1333 times

This was written in a response to a challenge on the ATSB-2:

by Closetfan


Rated: PG (language)

Summary:  A moment off the interstate; response to 10 Cliché challenge

Warnings:  Language (just a pinch)

Disclaimer:  Don't own the Team, the concept or intend to infringe on any copyrights. I'm not in it for the money, which is good, 'cause there isn't any. I do it for the jazz, man, for the jazz.



This was written in a response to a challenge on the ATSB-2:


"I ran across an interesting website the other day devoted to cliches (those trite, overused expressions or figures of speech that writers are often advised to avoid). While I was playing around with a link that generates a list of ten random cliches, it occurred to me that it would make an interesting challenge. <g> So, listed below are five different lists, each containing ten random cliches. Choose one list, and write a short scene using all ten cliches."


This is the list that caught my fancy off of the cliche list generator:

I would if I could
actions speak louder than words
I slept like a baby, I woke up and cried every two hours
dead and gone
pie in the sky
in a pig's eye
a kick in the butt
up for grabs
bear the brunt
Why me? Why is it always me?

I couldn't, just couldn't, fit one of them in the story, so I put one in the title. Cheating?  Maybe. I prefer to think of it as creative problem solving. :)


"Why me? Why is it always me?" I didn't bother hiding the edge of annoyance in my voice.

"You know what makes him tick better than any of us, Face,"
Hannibal replied.

In a pig's eye, I thought.
Hannibal knows all of us inside and out. He probably knows Murdock better in some ways than Murdock knows himself. Don't try to con a con man.

The fact is that whenever any of us need to be brought back in line,
Hannibal is only too happy to help out with a kick in the butt. But sometimes, when it came to Murdock -- well, a little more finesse was required. Hannibal isn't always comfortable putting things on a personal level. When that happens, the job somehow always lands in my lap.

Well, I just didn't feel like being the bad guy this time. I sat at the picnic bench and went over my notes for the next job. It wasn't anything I hadn't already memorized, but I thought that maybe if I ignored
Hannibal, he'd go away.

"Come on, kid."

Okay, to be fair,
Hannibal was tired. But hell, I was tired, too. We were all were tired. It'd been a long day. A long week. And in Murdock's case, tired means either a complete shutdown or he whirls around like some kind of human top till he crashes, physically and mentally. I'm not sure which one is worse, but from the way things looked today, the trick was going to be to get to Murdock before the crash.

"Face, he listens to you.  You have that way with him."

Still there, I thought, sourly. Well, I wouldn't dignify this blatant appeal to my vanity with a reply. I continued to ignore him.

I looked up from my notebook towards a small grassy area of the interstate rest stop, where Murdock was trotting back and forth, looking for all the world like a handler at a dog show. Exercising Billy, no doubt. But he looked tight and strained. His normally loose, easy movements were nowhere to be seen.

"Sometimes you're the only one who can get through to him, kid."

Hannibal's words came out with a sigh, like some kind of sad confession.

I turned to look at him, but he was gazing at the horizon, like he was admitting this small defeat to a higher power. Finally, he turned to look at me, his eyes thoughtful.

"Sometimes I can't do it. I would if I could, but he just doesn't hear me." He paused, choosing his words carefully. "I know he doesn't mean it. It's not like insubordination or anything. He just--" Hannibal paused again. "I don't think his circuits are all connected right now. That's all.

"I know it's not fair for you to bear the brunt, Face, but help me out, okay? I think BA really is gonna deck him this time if we don't get Murdock reigned in somehow."

Well, BA would have has hands full if he tried, I thought. Murdock was a lot stronger than he looked, especially if he was pissed off. Besides, BA knew as well as any of us that acting out, in some form or another, was how Murdock let off steam. How he bled off the adrenaline after a long job like the last one.

I frowned. You'd think, taking this into consideration, that once, just this once, BA would take the teasing with some good grace.

Of course, Murdock wouldn't enjoy it quite so much if he did.  I looked over to where BA was doing something entirely unnecessary under the hood of the van, avoiding all of us, as he usually did when he was in a particularly foul mood. Well, he deserved a break, too, I decided. After all, we were all tired.

I sighed in resignation and got up from the picnic bench. "I'll see what I can do." I hated being the one who always had to let the air out of Murdock's balloon.

I forced a smile as I walked towards him.

"Hey, Murdock. How ya doing?"

"Well, Billy here is doing fine. He was getting a little anxious sitting in that van for so long, but I think he was worried about makin' it to a rest stop. And me?" He grinned, reaching up to adjust his ball cap with the palm of his hand. "Well, that's always up for grabs...."

"Did you get a sandwich or something?" I knew Murdock hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, but was curious if he realized it.

"Not hungry right now, Faceman. Let BA have my sandwich. Save me an apple or something, though, for later, okay?"

"Okay, just don't leave the core in the van. I'm just not up for BA going ballistic again."

"Yeah, no problemo."

We stood in uncomfortable silence for a moment, Murdock gazing at the horizon while I looked him over, noting the signs of stress in the way he carried himself, the way his eyes squinted even when he wasn't looking towards the sun.

"Murdock, you look sort of tired. Did you sleep well?"

"Oh, I slept like a baby, I woke up and cried every two hours." I looked at him a little sharply, I guess. He grinned for a moment, then looked away. "Just kiddin'," he said, more quietly.

He turned towards the setting sun, hands in his pockets. "I'm really pissing BA off today, huh." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. "If I don't cut it out, he's gonna haul off and belt me soon." He turned to look at me, but his smile seemed a little off. "That what
Hannibal sent you over to say? You can save your breath, Faceman, I already know. I'll lay off."

At least I didn't have to pretend this conversation was my idea. Murdock had seen Hannibal and me talking. I was a little relieved. I didn't have to be the bad guy today, after all.

"You know, BA's been threatening to beat the shit out of me for the last, oh, ten years or so." Murdock bent over to pick up a stick, and threw it with all his might. "Might be interesting to see him try, don't you think? Go get it, Billy! Get it, boy!" He turned to me, his eyes seeming just a little to wide and bright.  "I'd like to see him try. If he hates me that much, we may as well get it over with."

"He doesn't hate you, Murdock. You know that."

"I know BA doesn't hate me." Murdock abruptly dropped to his haunches, patting an imaginary dog, praising him for fetching an equally invisible stick. "He hates what I've become."

He stood and pantomimed a perfect throw, encouraging Billy to fetch. "You know what, though? I ain't so crazy about it either."

Murdock's expression was unreadable as he looked towards the setting sun.

"Remember that guy you knew before, the one you met in
Nam?" he continued. He looked at the horizon, but I wasn't sure that was what he saw. "That guy who was you buddy, your compadre, your partner in crime? He's long, long gone, Faceman. Dead and gone. It's just that the body's still walking around." Murdock gave a wry smile. "All we got left now," he paused, accepting the imaginary stick again, "is a man and his dog."

"I wouldn't say that, Murdock. There's a lot of that other guy left in you. More than you know."

Murdock paused in mid-throw, and turned to look at me, his eyes dark and guarded.

"I see him all the time. He's the guy who's got our backs when we're out there and things get rough. He's the guy who's always there for us when we're hurting, or we need to talk. He's still in there, Murdock. You're still in there."

We stood in companionable silence for a few minutes, admiring the sunset.

"Well," Murdock pulled his arm back and let the invisible stick fly, "this guy's got a dog. That ain't all bad."

"No," I smiled. "This guy's got his good points, too."

The sun had almost set completely when Murdock whistled Billy back from where he was supposedly chasing grasshoppers, so we could finish the drive home.

"You know, big guy," Murdock said as the van pulled back onto the highway, "you've been threatening to beat me up all the way home, and you haven't done it yet. I don't think you really mean it."

BA twisted around, growling. Murdock shrank back into his seat, a grin on his face.

"Actions speak louder than words, BA. Not that I'm gonna push it, mind you." Murdock winked at me as he reached forward to pat BA on the shoulder. "But I love you too, big guy."




Pie In The Sky by Closetfan



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