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Simple Dreams and Flying Machines

Simple Dreams and Flying Machines

By KennaC

 

Rating:  R for Adult language, sex, violence, death of character (not main).

Summary:  Nancy and Murdock are both stretched pretty thin, and things aren’t about to improve when Nancy brings home a couple of stray . . . kids, that is. What could make things any more hectic? Let’s throw in a couple bad guys for good measure and see what shakes out. Sequel to Flying into a Mad Season: Who’s Psychotic Now? – kind of need to read that and A Lifetime Supply of Cabbage Rolls to fully understand this one. Be warned up front – it’s a long one – hopefully worth the read.

Note:  Many thanks as always to the wonderful artists whose lyrics are featured in this story (please note that the music is anachronistic and is not an indication of time frame for the story):

 

R. Thomas (Matchbox20) – You’re So Real

J. Sill – Enchanted Flying Machines

J. Lodge (Moody Blues) – Isn’t Life Strange

R. Thomas (Matchbox20) – Push

A. Myles – Living on Memory

B. Hornsby – Fields of Gray

 

Disclaimer:  I do not own the A-Team or associated characters and I make no money from this – it’s all for fun! Nancy Clay Murdock and her personal associates (besides, of course, Hunt Stockwell) are all mine for good or bad.  Enjoy (hopefully) and review (PLEASE)!

 

Enter – Bad Guy

 

A dark-haired man about 5'5", with a defiant attitude apparent in every move, walked into the bar of an Italian restaurant in downtown Washington DC, nodding greeting to several patrons as he headed to the back room.  He ducked through the door, walked past the group of men playing poker and approached the man sitting at a table in the shadows of an alcove at the rear of the room.

 

"How'd the recovery go, Cuttey?" the man in the shadows asked.

 

"No problems, Mr. Smith," Cuttey said - he set a brown paper bag on the table, "Here's the money."

 

A large non-descript thug reached down and took the bag, quickly counting the wad of bills, "It's all here, sir."

 

Mr. Smith blew a long stream of smoke and knocked the ashes off his cigarette, "You've been doin' good work for me, Cuttey, don't think I don't notice.  And never let it be said that I don't reward those who do good by me."

 

He took another drag on his cigarette, before continuing, "I got a job that's come up that could use your special, uh, talents. Frank here’ll give you the details." 

 

Mr. Smith leaned forward into the light, the jagged scar across his jaw standing out starkly white against his olive skin, "Consider this a test, and if you pass, well, I think I got a permanent place in my organization for a man like you," he smiled at Cuttey and winked, then leaned back, obviously done with the conversation.

 

Frank rose from the seat next to Mr. Smith, stepped around the table and motioned for Cuttey to follow.  They walked through a door, past a set of guards, down a hallway and to a locked office. Frank opened the door and walked to a locked file cabinet.  He unlocked it, located the file he wanted, relocked the cabinet and turned to the desk.

 

Frank opened the file folder on the desk, slowly flipping through the pages in the folder as Cuttey joined him, "This is William Ledley, Mr. Smith's old partner.  He's been getting friendly with the local vice cops, if you know what I mean.  This file will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the guy, from where he lives to what he likes to eat and when," Frank turned the last page in the file, closed the folder and handed it to Cuttey, "Memorize the contents - the file doesn't leave this office. Mr. Smith wants you to convince Ledley to shut his hole, permanently.  Don't want him dead, just scared shitless. And don't leave any evidence."

 

Cuttey took the file and rounded the desk, sitting down and reopening it to begin reading.  He glanced up as Frank turned to leave, "I’ll need some operating cash.  Tell Mr. Smith I’ll make it worth his while – Ledley will give up talking permanently when I’m through with him."

 

Frank looked at Cuttey distastefully, "Yea, well, that's what Mr. Smith is counting on. Stop by the table when you leave and I’ll bank-roll you."  He hurried from the room - he'd broken some knee caps in his time, but from what Smith had been able to dig up about Cuttey, that was freshman crap. Cuttey had forgotten more about torture then Frank had ever known.  Not a guy to get on the bad side of. But then, that was exactly what Mr. Smith was looking for.

 

Diving Into the Deep End

 

Captain HM Murdock rolled over and hit the snooze, looking at the alarm clock with a grimace - 4 am.  He wasn't wild about these early mornings anymore, but at least it was only one week out of four. This was his second time on in the past six weeks, and it would continue for another nine weeks, until the initial training phase for the new team was complete.

 

He rolled over and looked appraisingly at his sleeping wife. She hadn't even stirred when the alarm had gone off.  But then, he wasn't too sure when she'd come to bed the night before.  He brushed the mop of auburn hair out of her face, and sighed.  In this light he couldn't see them, but he knew the shadows were there under her eyes.  She was working way too much, especially for a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy. Unfortunately, he knew there was little he could do about it – she had a stubborn streak a mile wide.

 

He brushed his lips across her forehead before swinging his legs out of bed and heading for the shower.  He was due at the compound at 4:30am to get the recruits up and moving for their morning work out, and if he didn't get moving he was going to be late. He walked around the bed to the dresser, glancing at Nancy's alarm clock, which was set, probably far too early.  After a moment's hesitation, he reached down and turned it off - maybe she'd think she forgot to set it.  He shook his head and chuckled quietly to himself as he headed downstairs. Probably wishful thinking, knowing his wife, but he was willing to suffer a little bit of her anger if it meant she'd get some much-needed rest.

 

After a quick shower and cup of coffee he was on his way.  The recruits were already up and ready to go when he arrived at the compound.  There were eight of them altogether going through the team training.  Hannibal had decided to allow the chemistry of the group to make the final decision on who would stay and who wouldn't.  They ranged in age from 21 to 28, and were all doing well in the training so far, though they were still in basics.

 

They greeted Murdock quietly and waited for him to start them off.  He directed Larry, the youngest recruit, to lead the way, and took up the rear of the line.  Over the past six weeks the course was becoming very familiar to them, and  Murdock smiled as he watched them move through it with practiced ease.  As the last recruit passed out of sight, he realized he was falling behind and picked up his own pace to catch up.

 

 

When they arrived back to the house an hour later, Hannibal was standing on the back deck, his ever-present cigar glowing orange in the morning twilight. The recruits came to a stop in a line along the deck, doing cool-down exercises.

 

Murdock jogged up the steps and stopped by Hannibal, "Morning exercises are complete, Colonel," he said formally, then grinned, "I think three weeks between workouts is too long, Hannibal – I’m havin' trouble keeping up!"

 

Hannibal grinned, "You're just getting old, Captain."

 

"Thanks a lot, Hannibal," Murdock said disconsolately.

 

Hannibal smile around his cigar, then took it out of his mouth, indicating the recruits, "We're all getting older, Murdock, that’s what they’re doin’ here – remember?" he said chuckling. Turning more serious, he asked, "What have you got going today?"

 

Murdock leaned on the railing, "I've got to meet the contractor doing the hangar repairs at the airfield at 10," he said thoughtfully, then grinned, "Then Steve's comin' over to give me my instructor's lesson at two."

 

Hannibal shook his head, "Too weird to think of you getting lessons in flying . . . How long will it take you to get you're instructor's license?"

 

Murdock shrugged, "Not long - 'course I'm not sure anyone'll want lessons from a crazy ex-army pilot."

 

Hannibal smiled, "I bet you'll find there are plenty of folks out there who want lessons . . . especially from a crazy ex-army pilot!"

 

"Colonel? Captain?" came a tentative voice from below.  Both men turned to look at Larry, who was still assigned 'leader' for the morning exercises, "We've finished cool-down. What next?"

 

Hannibal nodded towards the house, "Assemble inside and begin reviewing the training tapes from yesterday."

 

Larry turned and relayed the order, directing the group inside and getting them started on the review.

 

Hannibal watched appraisingly, then turned back to Murdock, "Well, any observations?"

 

Murdock shrugged, "Well, they sure seem to have the basics down . . . ‘bout time to move on, before boredom sets in,” he grinned, “Oh, and a comment - you're never gonna weed that crew down to four."

 

Hannibal grimaced, gazing out over the obstacle course thoughtfully, "Nan said the same thing, and I'm afraid you're both right.  Guess I'll have to take your wife's advice, again, and split 'em into two teams and keep 'em all on. We do need to start exploring specialties in earnest sometime in the next couple weeks – I agree they’ve got the basics down and it’s time to start the individual training. Of course, that’s going to require more of all our time,” he turned and looked at Murdock, “By the way, thanks for taking care of things the last few days – I’ve managed to get a lot of the ground work laid for the individual team training. I think the outside instructors will help broaden their knowledge, and take some of the burden off us for training."

 

Murdock nodded, “This individual training phase has me a little concerned, Hannibal,” he said quietly, “I’m not sure how to keep all the balls in the air, if you know what I mean.”

 

Hannibal nodded, “I know, you have kind of over-extended yourself with the airfield,” his expression was stern, “But like I said before, I need you for this phase of the training – you’ll have to let Doc handle things at the airfield for awhile.”

 

Murdock glanced away uncertainly, “Yea, guess so,” he mumbled.

 

Hannibal let the issue drop for the time being, "Listen, I can take things from here, but I was hoping you'd be around for our weekly meeting with Nancy this morning at 8 - we're supposed to go over progress, talk about the next round of recruits for basics, and the next step after training completion."

 

Murdock sighed, looking guilty and Hannibal narrowed his eyes, "What's up, Captain?"

 

"Well," he said repentantly, "I wouldn't count on Nan at 8 - I kinda turned off her alarm."

 

"You’re a brave man, Captain,” Hannibal said with a slight smile, “Did she work late again last night?”

 

"She works late every night, including weekends, anymore," Murdock said irritably, "I didn't even hear her come to bed," his expression was serious as he looked at his commanding officer, "I'm worried about her, Hannibal, she's pushin' way too hard.  I could strangle the General for putting her in this position . . ."

 

Hannibal looked at Murdock ruefully; Nancy wasn’t the only one that was over-extended, though he had to admit that her position right now was probably more critical then Murdock’s, “I hate to say it, Murdock, but you are the one that made the original recommendation . . ."

 

Murdock crossed his arms, his expression black, "Don't remind me!"

 

 

Nancy yawned and rolled over, finally focusing on the alarm clock as the sleep fog cleared from her head.  She sat up suddenly as the time registered, 'Shit, it's after 10!'

 

She reached over and picked up the clock looking at the alarm button - which was in the off position.  She glanced over at her husband's side of the bed, suspicion turning to certainty.  She set the alarm down and stood up, stretching.

 

She picked up the telephone next to the bed, and dialed Murdock's cell phone.  He answered on the first ring, "Murdock, what can ya do me for?"

 

"Captain, did you turn off my alarm this morning?" she asked flatly.

 

There was a pause, before Murdock replied in a perfect Bogey impression, "You can't prove nothin' swee'heart - you got no witnesses."

 

Nancy sighed, quickly shaking off her initial irritation.  She never could stay angry at him, "I trust you told Hannibal I wasn't going to make the meeting this morning."

 

"Don’t worry. Hannibal said it was no problem, that we could reschedule for tomorrow," Murdock said, then added, "How ya feelin', Short Cake?"

 

Nancy smiled at the concern in his voice, "I feel pretty good - guess the extra sleep helped," she admitted grudgingly.

 

Murdock decided to push the advantage, "Why don't you stay home today and take it easy.  I'll try and get out of here early and come chase you this afternoon."

 

"I can't," Nancy said, "I promised Riley I'd be in at 10, and I'm already late."

 

"Riley will live," Murdock pressed, "you need some rest."

 

"Don't worry, I won't work too hard," she said calmly, then glanced at the clock again, "I should get moving.  I'll see you tonight?"

 

"I'll see you this afternoon," he said pointedly, "and try to take it easy today, huh Short Cake?"

 

"I will," Nancy promised, "I love you, HM."

 

"Love you, three," he replied, "See ya this afternoon - the earlier the better."

 

Nancy smiled, "'til then - bye."

 

She got a quick shower, and decided not to take time for breakfast, walking into Adam's investigations a little before 11.  As she entered the office, she heard Les Jenkins' voice coming from Riley's office.  Les had started with Adam’s Investigations just a couple months ago, but had quickly become a trusted and valuable employee. Nothing ever seemed to rattle her, but at the moment she was sounding desperate, "C'mon, Riley, you gotta cover the surveillance for me - this lead will go cold if I don't jump on it now, and I can't be two places at once.  Contrary to popular opinion."

 

"I'm sorry, Les, but I've got interviews scheduled all afternoon, and our only backup today is sick with the flu."

 

"Bull shit," Les said vehemently, "You should give Tad the boot - the guy's not sick, he's just lazy."

 

Nancy heard Riley sigh heavily, and stuck her head in the office, "Dissension among the troops?" she asked lightly.

 

Riley looked up and glared at her, "And where the hell have you been?" he asked irritably, "You were supposed to be here an hour ago.  I guess Stockwell Enterprises has taken the front seat again where you're concerned."

 

Nancy gritted her teeth, feeling a surge of unreasonable anger, followed by a rush of guilt.  Unfortunately, neither feeling was uncommon lately.

 

"I'm sorry Riley," she finally said, sincerely, "HM turned off my alarm this morning and I didn't wake up until after 10.  I got here as soon as I could."

 

Riley's expression softened, "I didn't mean it, kid - we're just stretched way too thin right now . . ."

 

"What's the problem?" Nancy asked, glancing at Les and smiling in greeting.

 

Les sighed, "Tad called in sick, again," she said irritably, "He was supposed to relieve Andy on the Cooper surveillance today, so I could follow up on some things with the Simmon’s missing persons case."

 

Nancy sighed, “Go on and take care of the Simmon’s follow-up, Les,” she said leaning on the edge of Riley’s desk, and reaching for the phone, “It’s more critical then the surveillance – I’ll see if Andy can hang on for a little bit longer.”

 

“Cooper usually hibernates in that damn juice bar from 11 ‘til 5 anyway,” Les said, “If it has to go for awhile, we probably won’t miss anything . . .”

 

“That may be the case,” Riley said, “but this surveil is for Peaspenen, Croft and Croft.  They’re a good customer, I really don’t want to let it slide.”

 

Nancy put in a quick call to Andy Garner’s cell phone.  Andy said he would hang on until noon, but couldn’t stay any later, he had to get home to the kids so his wife could head into work.

 

“Go on, Les,” Nancy said, hanging up the phone, but still holding the hand set, “I’ll make sure the surveillance is covered.”

 

Les nodded, and headed out the door as Nancy picked up the phone, again. She had enough ammunition in Tad Leanard's personnel file to give him the boot, but they needed the help right now - even if it was just a warm body.  She'd tried coaching, cajoling, and threatening, but nothing seemed to work with the guy.  When he applied himself he was a decent PI, and he was no dummy, but he was exceedingly lazy.

 

She dialed Tad's number and got the answering machine, "Tad, pick up," she waited a few seconds, then continued, "Listen, Tad, I've had it, you better get in to work today or come back with a doctor's excuse that says you were dying.  Otherwise, don't bother coming back in," she hung up in disgust.

 

Nancy sighed, "Riley, you'll have to take the interviews,” she chuckled humorously, “hopefully you can find at least two reliable investigators in the bunch. I'll head out and take care of the surveillance."

 

Riley looked at Nancy uncertainly, "Why don't you handle the interviews and I'll take the surveillance?" he suggested.

 

Nancy sighed, standing up, "You’ve done all the leg work on this round of candidates, Riley. I haven't even had time to look at the resumes," she said quietly, that guilty feeling rising again, "I can handle the surveillance."

 

Riley looked at her stubbornly, "I'd feel better if I was doing the surveillance - you really shouldn't be in the field in your condition."

 

"There's more work involved in doing the interviews than in the surveillance," Nancy said matter-of-factly, "All I've gotta do is sit on my butt in the car - I think I can handle that, even in my condition."

 

Riley looked at her through narrowed eyes, but finally capitulated, "OK, but as soon as Tad gets in here, I'm sending him out to relieve you."

 

 

Murdock sat back from the desk and rubbed a hand across his eyes. The numbers on the balance sheet were starting to run together, signaling that it was past time for a break. He stood and stretched, then walked over and looked out the window into the hangar.  He could see the contractor still taking notes for completing his estimate to repair the hangar door, and roof. He'd also given him plans and asked him to provide an estimate for adding another hangar bay. 

 

Doc waved at him from the other side of the window, motioning for him to come out.  Murdock opened the door and leaned out, holding an invisible carrot and quipped, "What's up, Doc?"

 

Doc just shook his head, chuckling and said, "You know you're the only person that can make that work, HM!"

 

Murdock stepped out of the office, and filled his partner in on what the contractor would be quoting.  Doc listened solemnly, "Do you really think we'll be able to swing an addition with all the hangar work that's needed?"

 

Murdock shrugged, "I doubt it," he said flatly, "But it'll give us a budget number to at least begin planning."

 

Doc nodded, then grinned, "Well, I didn't really stop by to talk business," he said, "I came to tell you that I would be out of town for a few weeks. I got tickets for one of them cruises to Alaska. Always dreamed of goin' up there, and I figgered since I had a partner who could handle things here, I'd go ahead and do it!"

 

Murdock smiled, "That's terrific, Doc," he said enthusiastically, then the import of what Doc was saying hit him, and he looked at Doc uncertainly, "When do you leave?"

 

"Well, that's just it . . ." Doc said, looking at Murdock apologetically, "I booked it through one of those discount services, where you take what you can get, and I, uh, well . . . I gotta leave tomorrow evening to catch a red-eye outta Philly."

 

"T-tomorrow?" Murdock repeated disbelievingly, "and how long will you be gone?"

 

Doc looked at Murdock ruefully, "6 weeks."

 

Murdock looked slightly panicked, "That's more than a few weeks, Doc!"

 

Doc shrugged, then clapped him on the shoulder, "But that's why I got myself a partner, right?" he asked with a big grin, "I have every confidence that you can hold down the fort while I'm gone."

 

Murdock sighed, he could feel those balls he was juggling starting to hit him on the head – and they felt like bowling balls.

 

The Straws Pile Up

 

Nancy sat in her bug watching the back alley and the front door of a juice bar in a seedy Washington DC neighborhood.  As expected, Cooper had headed here just after Nancy had taken over surveillance from Andy, and hadn’t moved since.  Boring as it was, she found she was actually enjoying being in the field for a change.

 

With her Uncle's illness and the new partnership in Stockwell Enterprises, she was spending most of every day on administrative activities for either Adam's Investigations or Stockwell Enterprises, and it was becoming very tedious. It was nice to take a break from the reigns and just work.

 

She glanced at the clock, noting that it was approaching 2 pm. Her stomach was reminding her that she'd skipped breakfast, and she was starting to feel funky.  There was a sub shop on the corner, and she decided to duck in and grab some lunch, the mark probably wouldn't be out of the bar for another couple hours anyway, given his habits.  15 minutes later she came walking out of the shop, her sandwich in a bag swinging from her wrist as she headed back towards her car, pulling her keys from her pocket.

 

She had almost reached the car when a non-descript kid in baggy pants and oversize t-shirt walked up behind her.  Without breaking stride, the kid, grabbed the bag with her lunch, breaking it off her wrist, and took off down the street at a flat-out run.  Nancy cursed and followed.  At 6 months pregnant she certainly wasn't going to win any races, but she managed to keep the kid in sight and saw the figure disappear between two buildings, a few blocks ahead.

 

Nancy hurried to the spot she’d seen the kid turn, and found that it was a dead-end alley.  She entered the alley cautiously. It was littered with old boxes and crates, with a couple dumpsters near the center. She moved slowly around the dumpsters, thinking that the kid must be pretty desperate to steal a sandwich. She could hear a girl's voice, speaking quietly.

 

"Look, Jack, I got lunch," the voice sounded hopelessly cheerful, "This will make you feel better - you just need to sit up and eat, everything will be alright."

 

The sight that met Nancy's eyes as she rounded the dumpster made her cringe.  A makeshift shelter of boxes and trash bags had been set up and bundled in dirty blankets within the shelter was a small child - the Jack to whom the girl was talking.  The boy's cheeks were flushed and his eyes were glassy, his breath rattling in his chest.  Nancy cleared her throat quietly, hoping not to spook the girl, who couldn't have been more than 10 or 12.

 

The girl jumped up and pulled a little switch blade out. Pointing it menacingly towards Nancy she said in a high-pitched voice, "Stay back, lady, I ain't afraid to use this!"

 

If the scene hadn't been so pitiful, Nancy would have laughed. She stood silently, considering the situation, which apparently made the girl nervous.  She waved the blade at Nancy and practically screamed, "Go away! All I took was a stupid old sandwich! Get away and leave us alone!"

 

Nancy looked at the girl with a very serious expression and said calmly, "You can have the sandwich," she motioned to the little boy, "but Jack doesn't look too good . . . I'd like to help . . . if you'll let me."

 

The girl glanced at the little boy, then looked at Nancy uncertainly.  Nancy could see the war going on in her wide brown eyes as she considered her options.  She didn't want to trust anyone, but she knew that the little boy needed help.  She seemed to come to a decision, and motioned to Jack with the knife, "You can take a look, but don't try nothin' funny or I'll cut ya - I'm not afraid to use this."

 

Nancy nodded gravely, and knelt down next to the boy, taking a tiny hand in hers, and then feeling his face, which was hot and dry. As she examined Jack she spoke to the girl, "What's your name?"

 

"Callie," the girl said curtly.

 

"And how old are you, Callie?" Nancy asked.

 

"Almost 13," she said, adding threateningly, "But I can take care of myself - and anybody else tries to make trouble for me and Jack!"

 

"I'm sure you can, Callie," Nancy said soothingly, "Can you tell me how old Jack is?"

 

"He's 5 and a half," Callie said, "he just small for his age."

 

"You two live out here all on your own?"

 

"We can take care of ourselves," Callie said defiantly, "We don't need no grownups messin' with us."

 

Nancy sat back on her heels, looking directly at the girl, "Callie, Jack is a very sick little boy.  He really needs to see a doctor. How long has he been like this?"

 

Callie looked at Jack, the worry she felt showing plainly on her face, "Since yesterday morning," she said quietly and continued miserably, "I tried . . . tried to . . .," she clenched her jaw, blinking back tears angrily, the hand holding the knife trembling as she continued in a rush, "We went to the hospital day afore yesterday.  The nurse took him into a room, and then I heard 'em callin' the cops . . . they woulda split us up - that's what they do.  I couldn't let that happen . . ." her voice trailed off in a choked sob, she looked down at the little boy miserably, "Please say he's gonna be alright," she whispered pleadingly, her look self-recriminating, "I’m s’posed to take care of him . . . he’s my responsibility . . ."

 

Nancy looked at the girl sympathetically, "Callie, I need you to trust me," she said gently, holding out her hand, "Just put the knife down, and let me help." 

 

Callie lowered the knife slightly, brushing angrily at the tears on her face with the other hand as she considered Nancy through narrowed eyes, "Go ahead, I'm lis'nin'."

 

Nancy folded her hands in her lap, and nodded, "If we don't get Jack to a doctor, I think that he's gonna get worse, and I know you don't want that.  I'll take you to the hospital and stay with you, and I promise, I'll do everything I can to make sure that they don't split you and your brother up, OK?"

 

Callie looked at Jack, her expression uncertain, “What do you think, Jackie?” she asked quietly.  When Jack didn’t respond, she turned to Nancy, resignedly, “I don’ know what else to do . . .” she said miserably.  She closed the knife, “OK, we’ll do this your way.” 

 

Seeing acceptance, Nancy quickly bundled the little boy into the dirty blankets and lifted him, marveling at how light he was.  She hurried down the alley and to her car, with Callie trailing closely behind.

 

At the car, she had Callie sit in the back, and laid Jack down next to her, discarding the soiled blankets and grabbing her emergency blanket out of the trunk to bundle him in. She pulled away from the curb, the surveillance forgotten, and headed for the nearest hospital.

 

 

Murdock was pacing in the hangar when Steve showed up to give him his instructor's lesson.

 

"Hey, Murdock," Steve said jovially, "Ready to teach me somethin'?"

 

Murdock glanced at the pilot instructor, and smiled, "Actually, I was wondering if maybe we could skip the lesson today, and talk business . . ."

 

Steve looked at him quizzically, "You mean besides you paying me to teach me what you already know?"

 

Murdock put an arm around Steve's shoulders, steering him towards the office, "Well, you see, I have a little problem that I think you can help me with . . . I know you're kinda busy with your folk's store, but wouldn't you just love to spend some more quality time here at the airfield . . . you know, looking after things?"

 

Steve looked at Murdock in surprise as he shut the office door, "Is somethin' wrong with Doc?"

 

Murdock dropped into the chair behind the desk and motioned to Steve to sit down, "No. He's just going on vacation . . . an extended vacation.  And I'm gonna need some help around here for the day to day stuff.  You were the first . . . well, to tell the truth, the only person I could think of on such short notice. He leaves tomorrow."

 

Steve was nodding in understanding, but his look wasn't encouraging, "You know how much grief Dad gives me even over these lessons Murdock . . .," he said uncertainly. Steve's Mother and Father owned the grocery store in a nearby village, and Steve's father had been pushing Steve to start taking over the family business.  Steve was less than enthusiastic about the grocery business, but he didn't want to disappoint his Dad.

 

Murdock rubbed his hands over his face and sighed, "I know, Steve," he said resignedly, "I was just hoping that maybe his attitude had changed.  You said you hired a couple good clerks that were handling things at the store while you were away, I was hoping maybe we could just rearrange your schedule some so you could cover things here for me in the mornings, maybe a couple hours in the evening  . . . it's only for while Doc's gone . . ."

 

Steve looked at Murdock thoughtfully, "I'd really like to help out, Murdock," he said, "I just don't think Dad's gonna be happy about it."

 

Murdock nodded, "That's OK . . . I'll just have to find someone else . . . You wouldn’t happen to have any suggestions?" he asked hopefully.

 

Steve sighed, "I don't suppose Gerry is an option?" he said, glancing suggestively over his shoulder towards the hangar.

 

Gerry Smith was the mechanic that they had hired about a month ago, and seemed to be working out . . . as a mechanic.  Murdock scheduled his work for him, and ordered all the parts that he needed.  All Gerry did was fix things.

 

Murdock shook his head, "Gerry is great at what he does, but I doubt that he's the least bit interested in running the desk," not to mention, not really capable, he thought ruefully.

 

Steve nodded and the two men sat there quietly for several minutes.  Finally Steve stood up, "You know what, Murdock, I'd really like to work here at the airfield . . . let me go talk to Dad. I'll let you know tomorrow what I'm able to swing."

 

 

At the hospital registration desk, Nancy didn't mince any words, "This child needs to see a doctor, now."

 

The nurse at the desk was a petite young woman, who looked up with an air of unconcern, "So does everybody else here, sign in and take a seat - we'll call your name when it's your turn."

 

Nancy felt a surge of anger, but took a deep breath, knowing that lately her fuse had been pretty short.  She spoke evenly, "I would really appreciate it if a doctor took a look at him right away – I’m afraid his condition is quite serious and has been for at least 24 hours."

 

The nurse looked at Nancy impatiently, “If he’s been sick for so long, why didn’t you bring him in sooner?”

 

Nancy snapped, “Listen, I’m in no mood to debate what should have been done - I want to see a doctor, now!”

 

"Ma'am, you . . ." the nurse had stood and was beginning to reply when the emergency room doctor came out, "What seems to be the problem here?" he asked amiably.

 

Nancy turned to the man, "This child has a fever and he isn't sweating. He's unresponsive, and he's been this way since yesterday morning."

 

The doctor did a cursory examination, feeling Jack's forehead and flashing a light in his eyes, "Bring him right in here," he directed, and Nancy and Callie followed him into a nearby examination room.

 

The doctor motioned to the bed, "I'm Dr. Lyons.  Just lay him down there," looking around the curtain, he called out in the hall way, "I need to get an IV started, stat, bring some glucose and . . ." he turned to Nancy, "Is he allergic to any medications?"

 

Nancy put a hand on Callie's shoulder.  The girl was standing stock still and looked absolutely terrified, "Callie, are there any medications that Jack can't take? Like have you ever heard that he's allergic to certain antibiotics, like penicillin?"

 

Callie looked up at her and swallowed convulsively, "I, uh, I don' think so," she said quietly.

 

Nancy glanced at the doctor, who nodded, "Bring glucose and penicillin."

 

Less than a minute later, there were two nurses in the room, and they and the doctor were working on hooking Jack up to an IV and monitors.  One of the nurses turned to Nancy, firing questions at her and noting the answers, most of which consisted of "Not that I know."

 

Finally the nurse sighed heavily, looking at Nancy in disgust, "Well is there anything you can tell us about his medical history?" she asked curtly.

 

Nancy glanced down at Callie, who shrugged miserably.  Nancy looked back at the nurse, and shook her head, "I'm afraid not."

 

"Well, then, it would really be best if you went and sat down in the waiting room, we'll come get you once we get him stabilized."

 

This seemed to galvanize Callie to action, "No," she said vehemently, "I'm not leaving Jack."

 

The nurse glared at Nancy, "Ma'am, I'm really going to have to ask you and your daughter to wait in the waiting room . . ."

 

"She's not our mother!" Callie practically screamed at the nurse and pushed through to stand next to Jack, holding his hand in a death grip.

 

The nurse looked more than a little surprised, "I'm sorry, miss, I thought . . ."

 

"I know what you thought," Nancy said briskly. Turning to Callie, she said gently, "Callie, why don't we go sit in the waiting room - they won't take Jack anywhere without coming and getting us, right Dr. Lyons?" she looked to the doctor hopefully for support.

 

The doctor glanced up, and smiled consolingly at Callie, "No way," he promised sincerely, "Jack won't go anywhere without you knowing about it."

 

Callie looked at the doctor shyly, then looked at the nurse distrustfully.  Finally, her eyes met Nancy's and Nancy knelt next to her looking at her seriously, "They're doing everything they can to help Jack, and we need to get out of the way and let them do it, Callie," she said matter-of-factly.

 

Callie reluctantly let Jack's hand go and allowed Nancy to lead her to the waiting room.  Before the curtain fell shut, she looked back at Jack one more time, looking more than a little fearful.

 

She settled in the chair by Nancy, her gaze never leaving the curtain covering the examining room where Jack was. 

 

Nancy looked at her sympathetically, “I know you’re worried, Callie, but right now you just have to trust that Dr. Lyons will take care of Jack.  There’s really nothing you can do to help except to stay out of the way.”

 

Callie nodded miserably, “I know, but I don’t like being away from Jack – he needs me.”

 

Nancy nodded thoughtfully, “I’m sure that’s true, but I’m also sure he knows you’re not far away.  We’ll get to see him again soon.”

 

They sat in silence for a few minutes, with Callie fidgeting nervously.  Nancy’s stomach was reminding her once again that she hadn’t eaten all day.  Glancing down the hall towards the cafeteria, she decided that food would do nicely as a distraction for both of them.

 

“Why don't we go get a bite to eat? It'll probably be a little while before they can tell us anymore about Jack," Nancy said, then smiled, adding, "besides, we left the sandwich back in the alley, and I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry."

 

A ghost of a smile touched Callie's lips and she nodded, "I'm real sorry about your sandwich."

 

Nancy stood and indicated the way to the cafeteria, "It was just a stupid old sandwich anyway," she said. Callie hesitated a moment, then stood and she and Nancy walked side by side to the cafeteria.

 

Descent of Mother Hen

 

Tad Leanard walked around the outside of the juice bar one more time, searching for any sign of Nancy Murdock.  He had checked inside and the surveillance mark was still there - no big surprise given that he spent most of his free time and most of his paycheck, in this particular juice bar.

 

It certainly wasn't that he really wanted to find Nancy.  Her message on the machine had been the only reason he'd bothered to go into work today at all – he’s much rather be sleeping off the hangover he was suffering from.  He needed this job, and he had no doubt that she would sack him in a heart beat. 

 

He sighed as he sat down in his car and considered his findings. The mark was in place and Nancy was nowhere to be found.  Something was definitely up and he picked up his cell phone, dialing Adams Investigations with a sense of foreboding.

 

Stephanie answered the phone on the first ring, "Adam's Investigations, Stephanie speaking, how may I help you?"

 

"Steph, I need to talk to Riley," Tad said without preamble.

 

"What's wrong, Tad, Nancy rip you a new one and you wanna whine to the big guy?" Stephanie asked tartly.

 

"I can't find Nancy, Steph," Tad said flatly, "Get Riley on the phone."

 

Riley came on the line a minute later, "What do you mean you can't find Nancy?" he asked disbelievingly, "is Cooper still at the juice bar? Maybe Nan followed him . . ."

 

"I'm not stupid, Riley," Tad said derisively, "Cooper's still here, and Nancy's nowhere to be found."

 

"Sit tight and handle the surveillance," Riley said, then punched the hang up, quickly dialing Nancy's cell phone - but there was no answer.

 

"Shit, damn and hell," Riley said vehemently, slamming the phone down, "That woman can find trouble anywhere!"

 

He turned to Stephanie, "Cancel the rest of my appointments this afternoon," he started out the door, then hesitated with a quiet ‘fuck’, and turned back, "And call Murdock . . . tell him his wife is AWOL. I'm gonna need some help finding her. Tell him to meet me at the juice bar."

 

 

Cuttey had just finished a whirlwind tour of Ledley’s neighborhood. It was a little too upscale, with the houses too close together, to permit him to do his work in Ledley’s house. There were way too many conscientious, good citizen ears around. He needed a place where either no one would hear the screams, or no one would care if they did.

 

He sat back and considered his options. There was that old warehouse in the river district that his buddy owned – it was convenient and he doubted there would be anyone around there that would care if they heard him working.  However, that was the same buddy that had hooked him up with Mr. Smith, and it was probably better to avoid any chance for a connection to be made to his customer.  Then he remembered the hunting cabin that he had used last deer season.  Secluded, not too far away, it was perfect.  Now, how to get Ledley there – that would require a little more thought, and he always thought better on a full stomach.

 

 

Murdock pulled up at the juice bar in his truck, jumping out and heading toward Riley's parked car, his agitation apparent.

 

Riley saw him coming and braced himself as Murdock stormed up, "What the hell was she doing in the field, Riley?" he practically exploded.

 

"It was a simple surveillance," Riley said soothingly, "Nan’s probably fine . . . she was in the sub shop about half hour, 45 minutes ago and bought a sub, and the bum across the street remembers her driving away from the curb just a little while after that."

 

"Was anyone in the car with her?" Murdock asked curtly, his concern evident.

 

Riley's lips formed a thin line, "Not that the guy noticed, but I wouldn't say he was the most reliable witness . . ." he put a hand on Murdock's shoulder, "we just need to find her, the guy was certain she took off north, so we'll start canvassing in that direction."

 

As Riley was talking a black van pulled up, followed by a red 'vette.  Hannibal stepped out of the passenger side of the van, and walked towards Riley and Murdock, followed closely by BA and Face.

 

"Status?"

 

"Nancy was seen leaving here, headed north, 30 to 45 minutes ago, in her car," Murdock said succinctly.

 

Hannibal immediately took charge, "Can't have gone too far.  Let's quadrant off a 10 block area to the north, and split it up - that'll put us meeting back up at 21st and Cain. BA and I'll take the northeast quad, Face take northwest, Murdock - southeast, Riley - southwest. If you find any sign, call my cell. Let's go."

 

Fifteen minutes later, Face called Hannibal, "I've got Nan's car at the Hospital Emergency Room, Hannibal," he said worriedly.

 

"We'll meet you there," Hannibal said, then quickly relayed the message to the others.

 

When Murdock, Hannibal, BA, and Riley arrived at the Emergency Room a few minutes later, Face was trying to determine if Nancy had been admitted, "She's a pregnant woman, reddish-brown hair, about 5'3" with blue eyes."

 

"Listen," the nurse said patiently, smiling at Face flirtatiously, "I told you, the only pregnant lady to come in here today came in with a couple kids, and she wasn't admitted."

 

Face turned as Murdock came up behind him, "It doesn't sound like anybody's seen Nan," he said uncertainly.

 

Murdock pulled his wallet out, holding a picture out to the nurse, "We're looking for this woman, have you seen her?"

 

The nurse looked at the picture, and nodded, "Yeah, that's her," she said certainly, "I think she took the girl and went to the cafeteria."

 

Murdock smiled in relief, "Thank you, thank you very much," he turned then looked back, "which way to the cafeteria?"

 

The nurse provided brief directions, and soon a small procession was headed purposely towards the cafeteria.

 

Lost and Found

 

Nancy followed Callie through the food line, encouraging her to take whatever she wanted.  While Nancy paid, Callie found a vacant table and sat down.  She began inhaling her food immediately, not even glancing up when Nancy joined her at the table.  Nancy watched as Callie ate, thinking it had probably been a while since the girl had a good meal. As she watched Callie devour her food, her thoughts wandered, how long had these two children been living on the street on their own?

 

Callie finished her food, and Nancy's steady, if unfocused gaze began to make her uncomfortable.  She looked at Nancy defiantly, "Don't be thinking that I owe you nothin' for the food," she said, "it's not like I asked for it or anything."

 

Nancy lowered her eyes, then looked at Callie directly, "Sorry, I didn't mean to stare, and you certainly don't owe me anything for the meal," she said quietly, "I was just wondering how long it had been since you'd eaten."

 

Callie avoided Nancy's gaze, shrugging noncommittally. Nancy caught her eyes straying towards the dessert display, and without a word, went over and picked out two large pieces of chocolate cake and paid for them.  She walked back to the table, setting one piece in front of Callie, and sitting down with the other piece.

 

Callie looked at the cake uncertainly, glancing at Nancy distrustfully.  But she finally picked up her fork and dug in, not saying a word until the plate was clean. Then she set her fork aside and looked at Nancy through narrowed eyes. 

 

After a few seconds she sat back and crossed her arms, "So, are you knocked up or are ya just fat?"

 

Nancy looked up, her eyebrows raised as she bit back a smile.  She replied slowly, "I'm due with twins in December."

 

"Twins, huh?" Callie said, her curiosity obviously peaked, "I never knew nobody with twins afore.  They got a father?"

 

Nancy found the wording of the question interesting, "Of course they have a father . . ."

 

Callie looked at her like an errant child, "Yea, sure,” she said impatiently, leaning forward, “but I mean is he around, or did he take off after he knocked ya up?"

 

Nancy smiled slightly, "My husband isn't going anywhere," she stated matter-of-factly, "He and I chose to start a family."

 

Callie looked down at the table with a curious look, "You mean you meant to get pregnant?" she asked quietly, her eyes straying questioningly to Nancy’s face.

 

"Yes," Nancy said certainly, "we wanted to have kids."

 

Callie seemed to be having trouble with this concept.  She shifted in her chair, "My mother didn't care anything ‘bout me, and then Jackie came along . . . she really didn't want us," Nancy wondered if Callie was trying to convince her, or herself. 

 

Callie’s mouth hardened into a bitter line, and she looked at Nancy almost defiantly, "so we left. We're better off on our own anyways."

 

Nancy nodded thoughtfully, "That may be, but that doesn't mean that all children are unwanted."

 

Callie snorted, but didn't respond to the statement, instead asking another question, "So, who’s your husband?"

 

"HM Murdock," Nancy supplied.

 

"HM?" Callie asked derisively, "What kind of name is that?"

 

"My kind of name," Murdock said at Nancy's elbow, startling Nancy, and causing Callie to jump up from her chair, knocking it over.

 

"HM?" Nancy stood and looked at him in surprise, "What are you doing here?"

 

Worried brown eyes met her blue ones, "I could ask you the same question . . ." he said quietly, "You weren't at your surveillance, and you didn't answer your cell phone, so Riley was naturally a little concerned regarding your whereabouts . . . since you hadn't called."

 

Nancy winced, it was never a good sign when Murdock sounded so perfectly calm and adult, "I had to turn the cell phone off when we got to the Hospital, and I . . . well, I guess I didn't think to call . . . we haven't been here all that long, and we were busy getting Jack admitted and all . . ." her voice trailed off weakly and she looked at her husband repentantly, "I'm really sorry - I didn't mean to worry you."

 

Murdock continued to look at her sternly for a few long seconds, but then his gaze softened, and he gathered her into a bear hug, "Oh, heck, I don't care," he said in relief, "I'm just glad you're alright."

 

"Speak for yourself," Riley said darkly as he dropped into a chair at an adjacent table, "I can't take this kind of shit - I'm getting too old."

 

Nancy smiled at her partner coyly, "You know that I'm the only thing keepin' you young, Riley!"

 

Then she realized that Hannibal, BA, and Face were all filing into the cafeteria, too, and her face reddened, "Geez, did you have to call out the entire squad - isn't that a little overkill?"

 

Murdock crossed his arms, his expression serious again, "You disappear without a trace, and expect us to react any differently?" he asked flatly, "Your track record isn't that great right now, you know."

 

Nancy began to get irritated – was he going to bringing up what happened with Kennedy forever?  She crossed her arms as well, and said warningly, “Don’t start with that again. . .," she glanced at Callie, "besides, I had a really good reason . . ."

 

"Let's hear it," Hannibal suggested, "starting with who the kid is," he indicated Callie with a nod of his head.

 

Callie was standing against the wall, her eyes big and round.  She looked like a rabbit, ready to take flight, and the image was intensified when everyone's attention was turned on her.

 

Nancy shook off the irritation at her husband, and smiled reassuringly at Callie, stepping to her side, "This is Callie Temple," she supplied, taking up introductions, "Callie, this is my husband, HM, and friends of ours, Hannibal, BA, and Face . . . and the grump in the chair over there is my partner, Riley."

 

Callie looked around the circle warily, looking only marginally less like she wanted to run away.  Nancy decided to take some attention off of her, and supplied a very brief explanation of their arrival at the hospital, "Callie and her brother, Jack were living in an alley just down the street from the juice bar, and Jack was really sick.  Callie was afraid of being separated from her brother, so I promised I'd bring her to the hospital and do what I could to make sure that didn't happen."

 

BA was nodding in approval, "How's the little man now?"

 

Nancy turned to BA, her face reflecting her concern, "He's a pretty sick little boy," she said, glancing at Callie and choosing her words carefully, she added, "The doctor wanted to get him stabilized.  We're just waiting for him to come tell us we can go and see Jack."

 

"Anything we can do to help?" Hannibal asked.  When Nancy shook her head, he turned to BA and Face, "Looks to me like Nancy and Murdock can take it from here - let's head back to the Compound. We've got recruits waiting for us."

 

Riley stood as well, "Yea, and I'm gonna salvage what I can of the afternoon . . . which isn’t much . . . by rescheduling interviews," he looked at Nancy accusingly.

 

Nancy looked at them ruefully as they turned to leave, "I'm really sorry, guys. I promise next time I won't forget to call."

 

A chorus of snorts and derisive "yea's" met that statement, and Nancy looked at her husband guiltily.  Murdock chuckled, putting an arm around her shoulders,  "Don't sweat it, Short Cake. It's just their way of showing that they're glad you're OK."

 

Callie finally stepped forward, nodding after the group of men exiting the cafeteria, "They like your babysitters or somethin'?"

 

Murdock glanced down at the girl and his grin widened, "I'd say she's got your number, Short Cake," he said, and pulled out a chair, "Sooooo, what's for dinner?" He pulled Nancy's half eaten plate of food forward, and started cleaning it up.  Callie sat down and watched him in amazement for a few minutes, while Nancy sat down and began eating her cake.

 

Nancy glanced over at the quiet girl, "Do you want anything else, Callie?"

 

Callie shook her head silently, her eyes never leaving Murdock, who had quickly polished off Nancy's lunch and was eyeing her cake.  Nancy caught his look, and smiled, pushing the rest of it over to him.  Callie was shaking her head, and Nancy chuckled, "Just keep your hands and feet away from his mouth, Callie, and you'll be safe."

 

Murdock looked up at Nancy with narrowed eyes, as Callie asked incredulously, "Does he always eat like that?"

 

Nancy smiled teasingly at Murdock, "Yeah . . .,"

 

He sat back and crossed his arms, looking from Callie to Nancy, "Hey, I'm sittin' right here," he said crankily.

 

He leaned forward and looked at Nancy seriously, adding "You know stress makes me hungry - and you really stressed me out this afternoon, Nan."

 

Nancy's look sobered, "I said I'm sorry," she said irritably, "Can we just drop it . . ."

 

"Consider it dropped," he said, smiling at her apologetically.

 

"Thank you."

 

 

Cuttey had spent the last couple hours eating, drinking, and planning.  Carefully reviewing in his mind everything he knew about Ledley’s habits, he’d hit upon a straightforward plan. Ledley spent every Friday evening playing poker at Jester’s in eastern DC.  He always took a cab, so it would be easy enough to grab him there, he’d be drunk and off-guard.  Probably wouldn’t realize that he wasn’t going home until they were already well on their way to the cabin. He paid his tab and went out to the car.  He was going to pick up groceries for the weekend, and drop them by the cabin along with his tools. Then he’d head home, he’d have time to make the rest of the preparations tomorrow.

 

 

Dr. Lyons came walking into the cafeteria awhile later, and leaned against an adjacent table considering the trio. Callie jumped up when she saw him, "Is Jack OK?" she asked, worry creasing her face.

 

The doctor smiled at her reassuringly, "Jack is doing much better, we have his electrolytes stabilized, and we're pumping him full of antibiotics to fight the infection. He's got a pretty bad case of pneumonia, and he's not out of the woods yet, but I'm optimistic," he looked at Nancy, "It's a good thing you brought him in when you did."

 

Kneeling by Callie, he looked searchingly in her face, "Young lady, I'd really like to take you into one of the examining rooms and give you a thorough once over to make sure you don't have whatever Jack had that started this.  I may go ahead and start you on a round of antibiotics anyway, just as a precaution."

 

Callie looked at the doctor uncertainly, "OK, but I wanna see Jack first.  And . . .” she glanced at Nancy, who smiled reassuringly, then looked at Dr. Lyons, “and Nancy comes with me."

 

Dr. Lyons nodded, "Of course."

 

First, Dr. Lyons led them to a room down the hall, where Jack was settled in a bed, with IVs and monitors beeping all around him.  Nancy thought he looked even frailer there then he had in the little makeshift shelter in the alley.  Murdock squeezed her shoulders as they watched Callie walk over and sit on the edge of the bed, talking cheerfully to Jack, "Hey Jackie, they're gonna take good care of you here . . . you'll be better in no time, you'll see. And we'll go play in the park," the little girl took her brother's limp hand and patted it, a brave smile on her face.

 

She turned to the doctor, "Can I stay here with him?"

 

Dr. Lyons looked at her apologetically, "I'm afraid not. We're going to be moving him up to ICU in just a little bit, and there is a limit on visitors there.  Besides, you need to get your rest, too."

 

Nancy moved to Callie's side, "We'll come back first thing in the morning and visit Jack and see how he's doing, I promise," she said soothingly.

 

"I think it would be best if we let Jack get some rest now, that's really what's going to help him get better," Dr. Lyons said, "Let's go take a look at you, Callie and make sure you aren't suffering any ill effects from this infection."

 

Callie looked like she was going to argue, but after some consideration, she instead turned back to Jack, “I’ll be back tomorrow, Jackie – before you know it,” she patted her brother’s hand, then got up reluctantly and followed the doctor out of the room.

 

While Murdock sat in the waiting room, Dr. Lyons ushered Nancy and Callie into an empty examining room.  He gave Callie a thorough physical examination, and proclaimed her in overall good health, if a little undernourished.  As promised, he still wanted to prescribe a series of antibiotics as a precaution, "Callie, why don't you wait here while I take Nancy to get the prescription."

 

Dr. Lyons led Nancy out into the waiting room, where he motioned for Murdock to join them, out of Callie's earshot, "Mrs. Murdock, I'm in a rather difficult position here," Dr. Lyons began hesitantly, "Given that you found these children in an alley, I really should call Children's Services . . .” he indicated the admission forms, which were still only partially filled out.

 

Nancy looked at him worriedly, “I just want to make sure that Callie and her brother are going to be able to stay together . . . I promised her I would do everything possible to make sure they weren’t separated.”

 

Dr. Lyons hesitated a moment, “That’s always a problem with siblings . . . so few foster parents are willing to take more than one child at a time.  There’s no real way to guarantee that they won’t be separated, especially with Jack in the hospital.”

 

Nancy glanced at her husband, who smiled at her with an imperceptible nod, "We would be willing to take care of both children,” Nancy said urgently, turning back to Dr. Lyons, "Callie can stay with us . . . and Jack when he's better."

 

Dr. Lyons nodded thoughtfully, "If that’s the case, I think I’m going to delay making any calls today, it’s late anyway,” he held out the admission form, “For now, fill in your contact information on the forms. We’ll resume this discussion tomorrow, after we’ve had a chance to see how Jack progresses overnight.”

 

Nancy quickly filled out the top of the form while the doctor went to get a prescription slip for Callie. The doctor led them back into the examining room, where Callie had fallen asleep on the examining table.

 

Dr. Lyons shook their hands, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning during visiting hours. Like I said, we’ll be moving Jack up to ICU shortly, so check at the front desk when you arrive.”

 

Murdock picked Callie up, and they headed out the door to Nancy's car. Murdock settled Callie in the back seat, closing the door gently so as not to wake her.  He looked down at his wife, smiling and putting his arms around her waist, "Short Cake, I've heard of bringing home strays, but this is a little extreme."

 

She looked at him defiantly, then grinned "You love it!"

 

She pressed the prescription into his chest, "Why don't you fill this on the way home, and I'll get Callie settled into one of the spare rooms."

 

Murdock took the slip of paper and kissed her forehead, "Okeydokey. I gotta make a quick run by the airfield too . . . I'll see you at home."

 

Home Sweet Home

 

When Nancy pulled into the drive at their farm house, Callie awakened, "Where are we?" she asked groggily.

 

Nancy looked over the seat, as Callie sat up and rubbed her eyes, "We're home," she said cheerfully, "Let's get you inside and settled."

 

Inside Nancy gestured around, "Make yourself at home, the bathroom is right in there, the kitchen is at the back of the house - and always well-stocked with HM around . . . maybe you'd like to get a shower while I go make the bed."

 

Callie nodded silently and went into the bathroom and shut the door.  Nancy heard the water starting a few minutes later and headed upstairs to make the bed in one of the spare bed rooms.

 

When she came downstairs and walked into the bathroom, the shower was still running. She laid a t-shirt and pair of shorts on the sink counter, then picked up the pile of dirty clothes that Callie had left on the bathroom floor and put them in the washing machine.

 

"Callie, I've left some clean clothes on the sink for you," she said, backing out of the bathroom, "They may be a little big, but they'll have to do until we can get your others clean."

 

 

Murdock came in 15 minutes later and found his wife in the kitchen, putting clean dishes away, "Hey Short Cake, where's the little drifter?"

 

"Getting a shower," Nancy said, glancing towards the bathroom, "She's been in there a long time, should I go check on her?"

 

"She's fine," Murdock said reassuringly, "Shower probably feels good. She'll get out when all she's gettin' is cold water."

 

When Callie came out about 10 minutes later, Nancy and Murdock were sitting in the living room talking quietly. 

 

Murdock looked up and grinned at her, "Well I'll be grounded - there was a girl under all that dirt."

 

Nancy stood and motioned towards the kitchen, "Would you like something to eat or drink, Callie?"

 

Callie looked at both of them uncertainly, then yawned widely.  Nancy smiled, "Maybe you'd rather just go to bed?" The girl nodded and Nancy guided her towards the stairs.

 

Murdock stood suddenly, "Hang on, you need your medicine," he said, motioning towards the kitchen.

 

After she’d taken her medicine, they walked upstairs together. Nancy shepherded Callie into one of the rear spare bedrooms, turning the bed covers down, then straightening, she motioned down the hallway "There's another bathroom at the end of the hall, and our bedroom is the door just to the right of it.  If you need anything, just give a yell."

 

Callie still seemed very cautious of both of them but she moved into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, looking exhausted.  However, she didn’t make a move to lie down.

 

Murdock crouched down next to her and smiled warmly, "Sleep tight, Callie-girl," he said, and added comfortingly, “you’re safe here, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  And like Nan said, if you need anything, all ya gotta do is whistle. We're right down the hall."

 

A ghost of a smile touched Callie’s lips as Nancy and Murdock left the room, but she didn’t lie down until the door was closed behind them, and she had pushed the rocking chair in front of it so she would hear if anyone entered the room.  Satisfied that her makeshift alarm was adequate, she lay down in the bed and fell quickly asleep.

 

-----------------------------------End of Part 1------------------------------------------

 


Simple Dreams And Flying Machines by KennaC
Simple Dreams And Flying Machines 2 by KennaC
Simple Dreams And Flying Machines 3 by KennaC
Simple Dreams And Flying Machines 4 by KennaC
Simple Dreams And Flying Machines 5 by KennaC
Simple Dreams And Flying Machines 6 by KennaC

 

 


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