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This page last viewed: 2017-09-14 and has been viewed 1225 times
Warnings: None, really
Standard disclaimer, I didn't create these characters and don't pretend to. This story is for enjoyment only. :>)
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Who Needs Steve McQueen Anyway?
Murdock could barely remember a time without the darkness. It had lingered just outside his consciousness so long now that it seemed like a part of him, like his arm, or his leg, or his baseball cap. But he generally avoided thinking about things like that.
If he did think about the darkness at all it tended to be in his efforts to stave it off, finding new games, interests, personalities, and other temporary obsessions that drove his teammates as crazy as B.A. called him. That he enjoyed embarrassing them was just an extra benefit to being Howling Mad. It suited his sense of humor to make the big guy lose his temper, or to cause Face to whine, or to make the Colonel smile. The thing was, without the team around, Murdock didn't feel much like laughing.
Nights at the V.A. were heavy and silent. They were also painfully long and dark, so dark that it seemed like the shadows had joined with his own black demon and surrounded him. And the shadows were always hungry. They had gobbled up others who had given in to them and had grown larger, like the Blob. Only he was no Steve McQueen, he reflected glumly, though he had often pretended he was.
He stopped pacing back and forth in the narrow space between his bed and the window for a while to replay that film shot by shot in his head, enjoying how Steve single-handedly fought the insatiable jellylike beast and still kept his cool. But when he couldn't remember the ending he had to stop and continue his pacing with an angry sigh.
The pacing was the only thing keeping him awake. He didn't want to sleep now, though he was dead tired and could probably have slept right through B.A.'s loudest snores without a problem. But if he fell asleep now he was scared that the Blob would take him. He had put off returning to the V.A. for too long this time. This was his second day back after being out with the team for a month, and while he had enjoyed being out with them, he was so tired now that fighting off the darkness seemed twice as hard. When it got this bad the only thing that had ever chased the blackness away was being in the air, so high up that no clouds could touch him. But even if he'd had a bird available, he always had to come back down to earth eventually, and the darkness was always there, waiting.
That was why he liked the V.A. despite the severe lack of personal freedom and the delirious nights. The building and the people in it usually gave him a sense of stability and peace. Take the occasional screams from the rooms down the hall for example. The nightly V.A. chorus was as regular as clockwork, in fact, one of these days Murdock was going to lead them all in a rendition of the Stones' ìPaint it Blackî. He was pretty sure the guys would appreciate that song. He paused to consider that for a moment with a grin and hummed the song to himself for a while, enjoying how loud it seemed in the quiet room. Then he sang it softly for a moment, wishing he could turn his radio on.
ìIf I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes,î he called out into the nothingness in the corners of his room and then resumed pacing. If only he could regain that sense of peace that the V.A. had given him before. It wasn't here now; it hadn't been for some time. That was why he'd stayed away for so long.
When had he last felt warmth and light at the V.A.? Aside from occasional chats with Dr. Richter, he couldn't remember. But then he often lost track of time here. He did remember his happiness with the guys, but that was a separate happiness. That was friendship. He did need the guys, just as they needed him. For mutual distraction. They kept him too busy to think, and his craziness kept the others from allowing their darkness to get to them. Irritation and laughteróthe two ingredients of the patented Murdock cure, guaranteed to take away the monsters under the bed, at least for a while, and to temporarily quiet any accusing voices. Now, if only he could self-cureÖ
He realized that he'd stopped pacing and was standing in front of his little window. He looked out through the glass and bars beyond it to the dark sky. The clichÈ was true; it really was darkest just before dawn. He'd been waiting impatiently for those fabled rosy fingers of dawn to spread across the sky for hours now so he could curl up on his bed and pretend to have been sleeping all night when the morning orderly came to see if he had taken his meds. It gave him something to do, and the darkness was just plain easier to fight in the daytime.
The drugs would have helped, he supposed, but in their way they were just as frightening as his demons. Once you surrendered to them, they were forever too.
ìI look inside myself and see my heart is black,î he burst out suddenly and then realized what he'd said. That probably wasn't the best thing to be singing. He snapped his fingers several times, trying to catch a new beat and then frowned in disgust that he couldn't think of one. He knew a million songs, he should have been movin' and groovin' by now.
A light, lyrical melody came to him suddenly and he hummed softly to himself before the words came. I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me. The song was strong in his mind, as beautiful and peaceful as the V.A. had used to be. Where had he last heard that?
He closed his eyes just before the first hint of sunlight appeared on the horizon and brightened the sky, and continued to hum quietly. He remembered now. Kelly's last visit.
He had made her a tape full of modern stuff she would never have listened to on her own, but on the end the last song had been ìNorwegian Woodî by the Beatles. Hidden. He hadn't told her it was there because he'd known she would listen to the whole tape for him and find it, and he liked to imagine her smile of surprise.
She hadn't played it then, but he'd heard the song in his head when she'd opened the clumsily wrapped present anyway. He hadn't told her that though. She'd seemed uneasy enough during her visit. She always did when she visited. That was probably why she'd stopped coming. Murdock frowned and raised a hand to rub his chest.
Face would say that the heart is an organ that pumps blood. That there was nothing romantic or emotional about it. But his hurt when he thought of how long it had been since he'd last seen her.
ìMy heart beats loud and fast. Oh, press it close to thine again where it will break at last,î he recited with a sigh and then wondered briefly where he had heard that before returning to thoughts of Kelly. It had been two months now. Two months and four days. He knew exactly. Guess he had finally scared her off. She'd probably prefer Steve McQueen anyway; he'd killed his Blob, Murdock thought with a sigh.
You do like this girl, don't you? He heard Face's voice clearly, slightly nasal and definitely exasperated. I think I love her, Faceman, Murdock answered without hesitation.
Then go get her, Fool! B.A.'s gruff remonstration followed Face's gentler comment but before Murdock could respond to his teammates, the Colonel's little laugh rang in his ears.
It's simple, Captain. If she doesn't like the V.A., go see her and find out how she feels. He could just smell Hannibal's cigar. Murdock started to answer and then stopped. But, he tried again, but what if she told him to go away forever? If he thought that he might not ever look into Kelly's eyes again, he might just go to sleep now and let the blackness take him; anything to fill the emptiness of that loss.
Is that any different from how you are now? Face was rolling his eyes.
No, it wouldn't be any different, Murdock answered his friends promptly and then grinned at his sudden decision. He was going to see Kelly. He was going off to woo his lady. Well, not really woo. More like, see her and see if she wanted to see more of him, but woo sounded much more grandiose.
He opened his eyes and saw with surprise that the sun was rising and light was spilling into his room. He smiled before hopping quickly on top of his bedcovers and curling up into a ball. Thanks guys, he said to his teammates and wished them goodnight before starting to snore loudly as he heard the orderly making his way down the hall. Murdock barely noticed the man's amused laugh at the volume of his snores. He was going to see Kelly.
ìHa!î he laughed into the remaining darkness when the orderly had gone and then spoke in deep, angry tones like the big guy. ìYou lose for now, suckah!î
Murdock's sense of triumph had faded away by the time he was finally walking up the long driveway that led to Kelly's office and home. It was late afternoon and he was exhausted. A few sleepless nights and a long hike really took it out of a guy. Hannibal would say he was getting soft, and at any other time, Murdock would have loved a few days of trainingónothing but distractions that left him too tired to dream ‚ but he didn't think he could face that just now. Not with this huge ball of fear just twistin' up his insides and growin' larger by the second.
He'd been too busy thinkin' of how to get out of the V.A. this morning to really think about what would happen when he got here. But it had been easyónot that he'd ever tell Facey that, the little guy had to have something to live for. He'd just snuck over the fence during the patients' time outside and walked away. Unfortunately he'd had nothing else to think about on the bus ride out of town and the long walk to Kelly's house.
He scanned the rolling green hills of Kelly's property for military surveillance types as he walked, not that the army had ever seemed too interested in him or his friends. But you could never be too careful; Decker might actually get a clue one of these days.
He jammed his hands into the pockets of his favorite khakis and stopped outside Kelly's office door, remembering the last time he'd stood outside this door and his whispered confession. I like you. He'd known then without asking that she'd been on the other side of that door, waiting. He didn't know if she'd be there now. She'd probably found someone else and had forgotten about the crazy, screwed up pilot she'd rescued like a stray, injured dog. He frowned and shook his head several times. He didn't think he'd ever felt this scared.
Before he'd quite decided to go in now or to wait a little longer the door opened. He froze expectantly, a nervous smile on his face, but relaxed when he saw that it was only a little old lady with a shivering Chihuahua in her arms. Murdock immediately reached out to hold the door open for her, but she stopped abruptly to stare at him through old-fashioned wire rimmed glasses. Her hair was the color of some of his pills. The blue ones.
ìI don't know you,î the old lady said and he nodded before briefly removing his hat.
ìNo, ma'am, you do not,î he agreed seriously.
ìYou're not from around hereÖî
He was pretty sure that it was a question, so he played along and nodded again.
ìAnd you're here to see Dr. Stevens?î the old woman asked and then smiled widely when he nodded for the third time. Her eyes were twinkling as she stepped back into the waiting room. He followed her and closed the door behind them. She turned to greet another elderly lady sitting against the wall. This one had curly hair the color of a nacho chip. She was the only other person in the room, he saw with relief.
ìThis young man's come to see Dr. Stevens!î the first lady told the other excitedly and Murdock smiled lopsidedly when they both turned to stare at him with wide eyes.
ìMa'am,î he greeted the other one politely and tipped his hat again. They both smiled and then Chihuahua Lady sat down. He sat down too and stared back at them a little nervously when they didn't say anything right away.
ìWhat's your name, young man?î Nacho Hair asked suddenly, her curiosity obvious in the way she leaned forward. That made him grin.
ìMurdock, ma'am, H.M. Murdock.î
ìAnd what do you do, Mr. Murdock?î
He was starting to feel like he was in the politest inquisition ever, but answered anyway. It was hardly torture in a VC P.O.W. camp.
ìI was an army pilot,î he said simply. They both nodded in apparent approval.
ìMy brother was a pilot during World War II,î Nacho commented.
ìHow did you meet Dr. Stevens?î the other asked.
ìI hitched a ride in the back of her van when I was on the run from bounty hunters.î
For some reason, the two women ignored that like most people did when he told them the truth. He grinned when they exchanged smiles, then he glanced anxiously at the door to Kelly's inner office.
ìShe's in with my Petunia right now, Mr. Murdock. We're her last patients today,î Nacho Hair said kindly and he nodded, but kept his eye on the door. ìThis is the first time I've ever seen the doctor with a young man. And such a nice, well-mannered one. I'm so glad.î This time Murdock did look at her. They old ladies winked encouragingly and after a moment he winked back.
ìYou will be good to her, Mr. Murdock? We love our Dr. Stevens,î the lady with the Chihuahua asked. Murdock could understand that. He loved her too.
ìIf she wants me,î he said sincerely and they giggled.
ìHow could she not?î Nacho lady said with a flirtatious smile. Murdock's eyes widened slightly at that, he knew he would never look like Face, but he also knew that he was not looking his best today. He was pale and drawn and probably had circles under his eyes the size of the tires on B.A.'s van. But he welcomed her attempt at flattery and stood up to bow low over her hand, sweeping off his baseball hat grandly.
He was still bent gallantly over her shaky hand when the office door opened and Kelly stepped out. Murdock straightened up immediately and smiled nervously as her eyes got wide. She was more beautiful than he remembered. Her hair was a little longer than before and she had tucked it behind her ears but a few shining strands were in her face. Her cheeks were flushed with color and her eyes were a pure, bright blue.
The kitty carrier she'd been holding with one hand fell to the floor and he was pretty sure the cat inside protested loudly, but he was slowly forgetting everything in the world but her gentle eyes.
ìMurdock,î she whispered softly.
ìWhat's up, doc?î he managed to ask playfully and was rewarded by her shy smile. He barely noticed the sighs of Kelly's fan club.
He could have stayed that way forever, but the sharp bark of the Chihuahua seemed to startle Kelly. She shook her head, sending more hair into her face, and picked up the carrier she had dropped.
ìHerman!î The lady was scolding her dog without ever taking her eyes from him and Kelly, he noticed with a smile.
ìMrs. Birdlace, is something wrong? Why are you still here?î Kelly was asking in her soft voice as she returned Petunia to the other woman.
ìWellÖI was just staying to talk with Esther here,î Mrs. Birdlace answered with slightly pink cheeks. Esther nodded eagerly, but they gave themselves when they glanced over at him.
Kelly hung her head for a moment, hiding her face probably, but Murdock saw her red cheeks through the curtain of her hair. He looked over at the ladies with a slight frown and they got up. Ordinarily he would have enjoyed teasing Kelly a bit, but even he knew that it probably wasn't the best time.
ìPetunia's checkup was normal?î Esther asked as she gathered up her things. Murdock moved to hold open the door for them after Kelly nodded.
ìJust call to schedule another appointment,î Kelly reminded her like the good vet she was. Her blush was gone and she looked to be in control of herself again. Murdock sighed. The old ladies both waved her comment away and then stood on the other side of the doorway, not moving.
ìNice to have met you ladies,î Murdock said with a polite grin and then closed the door. He heard their excited whispers clearly before they had walked away and he guessed Kelly did too, considering how she smiled at him uncertainly. He turned to face her and then cleared his throat.
ìHi,î he started to say.
ìMurdock, are you alright?î Kelly asked with wide, worried blue eyes and came to stand in front of him.
ìOf course not,î he said reassuringly. She didn't smile.
ìI haven't seen you in so long.î It was almost a scold, but she softened it considerably when she threw her pale arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Murdock closed his eyes and lowered his face into her hair. She smelled like cocoanut. He lifted his arms to hold her closer.
ìI've been right where I always am,î he said teasingly and she pulled away to look at him. There was a bit of temper on her face. She so rarely got mad at anything that he blinked to see it directed at him.
ìYou were gone from the hospital. I figured you were with the team, but you didn't call me to let me know you were ok.î
Murdock felt his cheeks get red like he was a little kid as he remembered. He hadn't called her. The team had been really occupied for a while, but he still remembered picking up a phone to call her several times and stopping. That month at the V.A. without seeing her replayed clearly in his mind.
ìWhen did you come to the V.A.?î he asked instead of directly asking why she hadn't been to see him.
ìThree weeks ago. I couldn't before then. I had some family business and it got really crazy here for some reason,î she explained into his ìMy Heroes Have Always Been Cowboysî T-shirt. ìI was so worried about you.î He remembered the faint shadows under her eyes and nodded to himself, upset that he hadn't thought of them sooner.
ìNow, don't you worry none, little lady,î he responded, making his Texas drawl even more obvious. She gave a watery little laugh and pulled away. He returned his arms to his side with a sigh.
ìWhy are you here?î She asked after wiping her eyes and tucking her hair behind her ears. He reached to finish the action for her and brushed her cheeks with his fingers as he did. Her eyes drifted closed for a moment.
ìI came to see you.î
ìOh.î Her cheeks were pink again and suddenly he felt like whistling, so he did, ìLet Me Call You Sweetheartî. The guys had been right; it had been worth it just to see her again. He grinned down at her until she smiled back. ìI have to clean up the office a little nowÖî
ìNo problem. Just tell me what to do, doc.î He bounced ahead of her into the office and grabbed the broom against the wall.
He swept up nasty, funky piles of pet hair as she wiped down the Formica and steel counters. She seemed to be having problems with it though, he noticed. Every time he got within a foot of her she'd end up knocking over a bottle of disinfectant or a box of latex gloves. Then she'd laugh softly at herself and move away.
He was about to test this interesting phenomenon when she finished up and went to stand in the doorway and since he had to get the rest of the fur it had to wait. He'd noticed that before a few times at the V.A. too though, but he'd thought it was the place. Apparently it was him. He wondered if that was good or bad, could be either. Once he'd finally gotten every last bit of nastiness into a pile, he saluted sharply to make her laugh. Then he moved closer to her.
ìHungry?î she asked with a smile and took a step into the other room. ìI'm starving. Will youÖstay for dinner?î
ìWhat are you having?î he asked as if he were seriously debating, leaning his head to one side.
ìI think I only have hot dogs in the refrigerator,î she began apologetically, but he clapped his hands together.
ìLord, woman how did you know hot dogs were my absolute favorite?î
ìI thought pizza was your favorite, pepperoni and mushrooms,î she said around a laugh. He winked at her.
ìWith you, dear, all is as nectar and ambrosia.î
She paused in the doorway to stare at him like he was crazy and she didn't believe him. He sighed again. Except for his scams with Face and the occasional session with his good doctor, he always told the truth, but no one ever believed him. Well, actually, Kelly did, just not when he said she was beautiful.
ìOh, Murdock,î she said again, finally, and shook her head, dismissing his comment as another joke. He let it go for now and smiled, before gesturing her forward.
She hadn't let him in the kitchen with her, which he supposed was a good thing considering how suddenly clumsy she'd gotten in her office. Of course, if she was avoiding him hot dogs were the worst things to be making. She was out of the kitchen in ten minutes with a pile of dogs and plenty of mustardóhis favorite of all the condiments. Murdock had been debating it with the Colonel and had decided to follow his advice and go for a frontal assault. He took the tray from her shaking hands the moment she came out and then seated her at the table he'd set.
He did test it this time, lingering behind her chair until she nearly knocked over her glass of water. She really did appear to be scared of him. Depressed now, he moved quickly over to his seat and made himself a dog in silence, enjoying how she looked in the light of the setting sun and praying to Christ, Buddha, and Kuan Yin, hoping that she wouldn't be too afraid of him to realize that he wouldn't hurt her for the world.
He was on his third hot dog and Kelly was still on her first when she finally spoke.
ìYou really do love hot dogs,î she commented with a smile as he squeezed on more mustard in little decorative spirals. He looked up with a grin.
ìHot dogs are ok. If you like meat fillers and cholesterol.î He took another bite.
ìBut you're on your thirdÖî She seemed amazed.
ìThis is the first time I've felt like eating in days,î he answered honestly. She blinked rapidly several times like someone stepping into the sun who couldn't quite make out what they were seeing.
ìOh, Murdock,î she said again nearly scared the pants off him when her lovely eyes filled with tears. ìI was so worried about you and then you come here, so thin and tired looking, MurdockÖî she stopped and gave him a shaky smile as her tears spilled over. He stood up and pulled her up into his arms. She hugged him back and kept on crying.
ìDon't cry, pretty girl. I didn't mean to make you cry.î
ìStop calling me pretty,î she complained immediately and he laughed.
ìWhy not? You're pretty ain'tcha?î he said teasingly and lifted her chin gently. He liked her eyes after she'd cried; they were a little red-rimmed, but they were sparklin' like diamonds. Of course, he'd rather not see her weep ever again. She looked back up at him and then smiled before raising a hand to wipe his mouth.
ìYou've got mustard,î she explained like he was going to complain about her touch or something. He wasn't that crazy. He just covered her hand with his for a moment. She trembled, but she didn't move away. ìI've missed you,î she admitted and he nodded.
ìI've missed me too.î
She stared at him for a moment before sputtering and bursting into laughter. After a few minutes in which he had enjoyed watching her, her laughter died away and she stepped out of his arms.
ìHomer's missed you too.î
ìYeah, where is the little guy?î Murdock glanced around.
ìI keep him locked special area during office hours. It's got food and water and a bed inside, all the comforts of home.î
ìCan I see him?î Murdock liked Homer almost as much as he liked Billy.
ìOf course. Actually, could you let him in for me? I need to take a shower.î She pointed absently towards the back and blushed.
ìSure thing, doc,î he agreed instantly and tried to ignore thoughts of his lady veterinarian in the shower. She waved the way and turned. She almost out the door when she turned back. She glanced outside at the setting sun.
ìMurdockÖare you staying?î she asked in a rush. He stilled.
ìIf you want me to,î he answered, trying not to sound too hopeful, but knowing it was a lost cause. Kelly bit her lip and then smiled before hurrying out of the room. Not exactly sure what that meant, Murdock decided to avoid thinking about it for now and went out to say hi to Homer. Poor puppy, locked in a little room, unable to see Kelly for hours at a time.
The German Shepherd was very happy to see him and after rolling around together on the floor for about ten minutes Murdock introduced him to Billy and sent them off to play together. He washed the dishes from dinner and, when Kelly still hadn't come out of her bedroom, decided to watch some TV.
The TV in living room was dusty. She must never watch the tube and it was a cryin' shame. He switched it on and turned the dial until he found an old episode of Bonanza. He laughed triumphantly and sat down on the floor Indian style. He remembered this one. Hoss thought he saw some leprechauns and everyone thought he was crazy, but it turned out that there were leprechauns. They were really just midget circus performers but Hoss was vindicated. Murdock chuckled to himself for a while, not bothering to get up to turn the lights on, so when the sun finally went down the only light in the room was from the TV. He was completely absorbed in one of his favorite westerns when Kelly stepped into the room.
ìWhat are you watching?î she asked from the doorway. Murdock stood up immediately and turned to face her. Her hair was wet and wavy around her face and she was wearing a soft, white, long-sleeved bathrobe that ended just below her knees. She looked like an angel, luminescent and clean.
ìYou've never watched Bonanza?î he asked in insulted tones and went over and pulled her down in front of the TV. He sat down again next to her, with his knees drawn up. She curled her legs to one side and pulled the edges of her bathrobe closer together.
ìThat there's Little Joe. That's Hoss and that's Adam,î he explained seriously and she nodded.
ìOh, I remember this show. I watched it as a child. But I'd love to watch it now,î she added quickly when he gave her another offended look. He nodded firmly and turned back to the screen. After a few minutes he dropped his hand and moved it stealthily towards hers.
Her hand was warm from the shower, but more importantly, it closed around his slowly when he placed his hand over hers.
They sat in silence broken only by an occasional laugh until the credits ran and the famous theme music started up. Then Kelly sighed and laid her head on his shoulder.
ìWas it dangerous? The job you were on this time?î she asked suddenly, keeping her eyes on the TV.
ìAlways is.î He turned to look at her.
ìBut you like it, don't you?î
He shrugged and looked at the screen too.
ìA knight lives for the ride,î he said in his best Sean Connery.
ìThen why the V.A.? she asked him for the second time in the months that he'd known her. He watched the amazing mop infomercial on the screen before answering.
ìBecause sometimes a knight has to do thingsÖ.has to deal with things he'd rather not, in order to do his job.î
She was quiet for a while and he liked how she didn't say that it wasn't his job or that he could quit. She understood that he had to. It made him want to tell her more.
Isn't that why you came, Captain? The Colonel asked him.
Fool's scared, B.A. said with a derisive snort.
Hey, cut it out, guys, Murdock huffed, insulted and they went awayóthough he could hear Hannibal's laugh fade into the distance.
Ignore them, Murdock. Just tell her everything. She'll understand. Face's voice was gentle.
Are you sure? he worried, biting his lip. But Face didn't answer this time. Probably off rolling his eyes somewhere.
ìYou see,î Murdock said suddenly in a whisper, staring at his knees. ìThere's this blackness that I'm always fighting and no matter what I do it's always there. The only time it's not is when I'm in the air, just soaring too high for it to touch me.î There was something of his old playfulness in his voice for a moment but it didn't last. ìIt's notÖit's older than Nam, everythingÖit just make it worse and it's always there, drivin' me crazy. I try, I try to stop it but sometimes it wins and I think it's going to swallow me up and after a while I get tired of fighting it and I want to give up, you know? But I get so tiredÖî he finished abruptly there and then laughed. ìGuess I ain't no Steve McQueen, am I?î It wasn't everything, but it was enough.
His stomach was one giant, salted pretzel as he waited. He couldn't look at her; he couldn't look up at the TV. He heard the theme music to I Dream of Genie distantly and finally, Kelly's indrawn breath.
ìYou make me want to cry, Murdock,î she said and he turned his head slowly to look at her. ìBut I've cried enough today.î She was smiling. It was a smile that glowed impossibly bright, like the last flicker of a candle about to burn out. Nirvana. ìIf that's why you need to be at the V.A. then fine. I'm glad you told me.î
ìYou mean you aren't scared?î he asked in amazement. She shook her head. He swallowed dryly before speaking again.
ìEven though I'm so tired I could fall asleep right here, I won't, because if I did, the darkness could come?î he asked quickly.
ìWhat will happen if it does?î she wondered calmly.
Nightmares if he was lucky. Depression. Fear and loathing. He whispered all that to her softly.
ìWould it help if I were here with you?î she wondered and squeezed his hand. He realized that she hadn't once let go.
ìIt wouldn't be pretty,î he answered in a rough voice.
ìThen we're even, since I'm not exactly pretty myself.î
Murdock took her face gently but firmly in his hands.
ìNo,î he said forcefully. ìYou are the most beautiful creature alive. You are the sun. You make me feel warm and happy and full of light.î
ìMurdock,î she started to say and he shook his head.
ìNope,î he said again and kissed her.
She was honey and chamomile and starlight, everything pure and radiant and sweet that ever had been. And he needed more.
He slid his hands from her face to her hair and twined his fingers in the damp strands. She didn't protest, she didn't do anything. She had closed her eyes when he had first kissed her and aside her blushes, hadn't responded to his kiss in any other way. He broke off abruptly and pulled away. Her eyes flew open and if possible she blushed even more furiously.
ìI'm sorry,î he whispered, staring into her befuddled blue eyes. It was the first time he had ever lied to her. Her eyes widened.
ìSÖsorry?î she stuttered. ìWhy?î
ìWhy?î he repeated and tilted his head to one side to study her. She seemed confused but not angry. For the first time he considered all of her comments about not being pretty or having boyfriends. ìKelly,î he said and then stopped. Instead he leaned forward and kissed her again, softly, the way she had kissed him on the first day they'd met, sweetly, but not quite on the lips. Then he looked into her eyes. They were glowing. ìWould you like to fly with me?î he asked with a warm, teasing smile.
ìMurdock, IÖî She stopped to bite her lip. Then she leaned forward to plant another awkward, ridiculous peck near his mouth. He grinned playfully at her before pulling himself nearer to her. She froze a little when he slid her gently to the carpet a moment later, the uncertainty on her face obvious even to a crazy man like him.
ìDo you trust me?î He needed to know. She smiled nervously but nodded.
ìWhat do I do?î Her voice trembled as she asked. Murdock smiled down at her and touched her cheek with a finger.
ìYou just feel. Captain Murdock has this bird under control.î
She giggled as he'd meant her to, then gasped when he undid the belt of her robe.
ìBeautiful,î he said again with a grin as he stared at her and she smiled back shyly.
ìSorryÖforÖlaughing,î she whispered and her eyes drifted shut. But they flew open again when he pulled away from her. ìWhat?î she asked and then smiled at his close to frantic attempt to take off his leather jacket.
ìI swear, normally, I have no problem in getting a jacket off, ëless it's a straightjacket,î he said in embarrassment. He thought it might have something to do with his suddenly shaking hands. Despite his attitude, it had been a long time since he'd done this, and never with Kelly.
ìMurdock.î She laughed softly and sat up. She helped him remove the damn thing and then stared into his eyes before untucking his T-shirt and running her hands tentatively over his chest and stomach. He wondered if it was the light from the TV that brought that beautiful light to her eyes, or if it could possibly be him.
ìI love you,î he confessed guiltily, hanging his head a little.
ìI love you too,î she answered immediately, if impatiently, and flung his baseball hat to some dark corner of the room. He watched it disappear in amazement before turning back to her.
ìHey, a cowboy always leaves his hat on,î he protested with a laugh. She looked startled as if she hadn't quite realized what she'd done until he'd said something. He laughed again before covering her face with kisses and drawing her back down to the floor.
Her shocked, whispered exclamations as he touched her were quite possibly the most beautiful music he'd ever heard. He shouldn't have been surprised at her passionóangels did fly after all. But at some point he became aware that he wasn't in control of anything. He'd meant to be Superman to her Lois Lane, but instead he felt like he was the one being carried up by a force stronger than anything he'd known before. He wasn't sure about that, maybe that was his craziness, but then he saw that same amazed look in Kelly's eyes afterward. He wondered if she knew how much he'd meant not to lose control in case he scared her, and if she could guess how much it meant to him that she not only hadn't been scared, but had been right up there with him.
ìI love you,î he said once more, staring down at her face. Kelly smiled at him and then raised her head to press a kiss to his mouth. This time she was right on target.
ìHow do you ever manage to come down when you're up so high?î she wondered with wide eyes. He chuckled.
ìThe fuel gauge is a great motivator,î he told her seriously and made her utter a little shriek when he suddenly picked her up. But she settled against him trustingly in the next second. He found his way to her bedroom and laid her gently on the bed, moving the blanket from the foot of the bed to cover her. She watched while he did.
ìStay,î she said demandingly but with pleading eyes. He immediately crawled on the bed, over her, and curled up next to her, spoon fashion. Kelly gave one long, contented sigh and then he felt her relax against him.
Murdock yawned loudly and felt his own eyes drifting closed. He hesitated and then finally, let them fall completely. He saw darkness, but he felt warmth next to him and knew that all the light in the world was in Kelly's eyes whenever he needed it. His tense muscles let go at last as he pulled Kelly a little closer before he finally gave in to sleep. He felt a faint smile cross his face.
Come and get me, suckah! he challenged the Blob, I'm not fighting by myself anymore. Suddenly he remembered the end of the movie, Steve with his friends and his love. They hadn't killed the Blob. But they'd stopped it. That's right, Murdock realized with his last conscious thought, even Steve McQueen hadn't done it alone.
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