The new phase of the Team's lives began with the end of a trying case. During the case, they had been tracking down an experimental type of gun that the woman who hired them had claimed would cost several thousand lives if the technology was permitted to fall into the wrong hands. As they were battling the villains, the gun was used --- on Murdock. He had gone stock still, bathed in the eerie blue light of radiation.
Face had tackled him, knocking him out of the beam but getting a hefty dose himself in the process. The villain, seeing he had been bested since there were sirens in the distance, set the weapon to overload.
The team had bolted -- but only BA and Hannibal had made it out of the building before it went up with a bang and a sonic wave that knocked them from their feet.
The sirens stopped. Decker got out of the jeep and frowned at the rubble. Without a word, he got in the jeep and led the procession away. BA raised his head. "What the hell was THAT about?"
Hannibal grinned, delighted despite everything. "Maybe he thinks we didnt' survive. Guess I'll have to give him a call after we get home, right, Face?" He looked around, his smile dying. "......they're still in the ---"
As one, they bolted for the rubble and began shoving hunks of debris aside. BA uncovered the villain, so badly charred there was nothing of him left.
Hannibal swallowed convulsively. "They were right behind us...check closer to the door."
"Han'bal, you seen that guy! There more'n likely ain't nothin' o'them left!"
As if on cue, Murdock rose from the rubble, coughing and spluttering, bruised but alive. "What's that make me, big guy?" he rasped, grinning slightly. "A ghost?"
BA snorted. "No, makes you the same old fool you always was!" he growled, seeing Murdock wasn't injured beyond bruises.
Murdock raised some loose boards to reveal Face, just as bruised, and unconscious. "He's about the same as me," Murdock said, laying a hand on the blonde's arm. "Knocked around, but okay." He gazed at Face, and Hannibal gasped in shock as turquoise flecks began to dance in Murdock's chestnut brown eyes.
Face's turqouise eyes fluttered open wide, and Hannibal saw chestnut brown flecks dancing in them. Two blinks, and they faded, leaving the turquoise eyes slightly dazed but all one colour. "Oooh my HEAD...." Face moaned, sitting up.
Hannibal and BA examined them, finding no trace of concussion in either. The worst injury either had was bruises and a few cuts. "You're fine, fool," BA said, slapping Murdock's shoulder.
"Well, besides the obvious insanity," Face said, grinning at Murdock. Murdock grinned back, and there were the flecks again.
Face's smile suddenly faded and he took a step backward, his face paling. ".....WHAT did you say?" he gasped.
"I didn't say ANYTHING out loud," Murdock blinked, suddenly serious. The flecks appeared again, and Face nodded, paler than ever.
He pointed at Murdock. "I HEARD YOU!" he gasped. "You.... you said that insanity was sanity for you and you really WERE all right! You told me just now that you think I'm as insane as you!"
Silence fell with a resounding THUD.
After a long moment, Murdock whispered, "Colonel......he's right! That's EXACTLY what I thought -- word for bloomin' word!"
Once more, there was silence. Then Hannibal whispered, "Lieutenant...try it from your end. Captain, tell me what he says."
Once more the flecks danced, then Murdock whispered, "This is stupid, Murdock can't read my mind....I seem to be able to b---holy shit, he's saying what I'm thinking!"
"Holy shit, he's right!" Face gasped.
After the implications sank in, Face groaned. "Oh LOVELY! The only mind-link that actually exists, and it's gotta be me and mister straightjacket here!"
"Look on the bright side, Face," Hannibal smiled slightly. "This might calm Murdock down a little."
BA snorted in response.
Murdock grinned. "Yeah, but see, it works both ways. *I* may get calmer...but what *I* can't wait to see is Face gettin' a little insane!"
His grin grew. "It's gonna be GREAT!"
"HANNIBAL...." Face wailed.
Hannibal's only reply was a chuckle and a shake of the head.
The Team was almost to their temporary home, the penthouse apartment Face held under the name Simon Wallace. All was quiet in the van ---
Until Face suddenly whirled on Murdock. "Would you CUT THAT OUT?" he snapped.
Hannibal turned his seat to face them. "What's going on?"
Murdock grinned. "Just tryin' to lighten Faceman up, Colonel."
"Yeah!" Face snapped. "Singin' nursery rhymes as loud as you can think! Colonel, I can't take much more of this!"
Hannibal nodded. "Lay off, Murdock. That's an order." Murdock nodded, and Hannibal finished, "THOUGHTS TOO. Is that plain, Captain?"
His face fell. "Crystal, sir." He gave an exaggerated sigh and one hand began to move like he was rubbing Billy.
Face's relief was visible.
When they arrived at the penthouse, Face vanished. After a moment, the others saw his car streak from the parking garage.
Hannibal sighed. "I'll go see if I can talk to him."
"NO!" Murdock whirled from the window. "No, Hannibal...don't." When the blue eyes were turned to him, he licked his lips and finished, "....he just has to be alone for awhile."
Hannibal started to object, but then slowly closed his mouth as the truth dawned. When it came to Face now, Murdock knew him perhaps more than he knew himself.
Face walked down the beach back toward the car, his mind reeling as he tried to sort out the confusing hand Fate had dealt him.
Every so often, he felt that .... that PRESENCE... in his mind, though Murdock 'spoke' no words. He was aware that it was Murdock's way of making sure he was alright, and he was grateful the touch was brief.
//Why me?// he thought. //Why did this happen to ME? Life was confusing enough BEFORE!//
He sagged into the driver's seat and leaned his head against the sterring wheel. Angry and bewildered over the new and confusing development in his life, Face sent, *I have my OWN demons to fight, Murdock! I don't need to fight YOURS on top of them!*
After a moment of silence, Face smiled involountarily as an image of Face and Murdock in armour, battling dragons and other assorted beasts side-by-side, popped into his mind. Then Murdock's surprisingly gentle voice spoke. *Then let's handle both o'em together.*
Face's smile grew and he sighed. *Thank, HM. You know, you're not as crazy as you want us to believe.*
*HUSH! Don't ruin it!* A soft chuckle followed that. *Anytime. Head on back --- we've drawn first watch.*
*On my way.* He started the car and left the beach, smiling.
Maybe this wouldn't be so bad AFTER all.