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The Season For Family
by Adalia, December 2001
Warnings: Some sap. Well, alright. A lot of sap.
Summary: Murdock plays Santa and everyone except Stockwell gets for Christmas what he really wants most. This is in the middle of the fifth season somewhere, and let's all just forget about A.J. Bancroft for a bit, okay? :-)
Comments: Always welcome.
Author's Note: I wrote this while possibly under the influence of a 101 degree fever the other night, and no one's looked over it since, so it might be a little strange in places. :-)
***Two Days Until Christmas***
Murdock was in a bad mood. He wasn't the only one, either, and he figured that to be the problem in the first place. No one was in a good mood. It was especially depressing because it was only two days until Christmas.
Now that he thought about it, things had been working up, or down, depending on how you looked at it, towards this overall depression for nearly three months. Frankie had been slowly going crazy between not being able to see his father and never measuring up to the Team's, or anyone's, standards. BA had been more surly, he rarely did more than growl and had even
stopped working fanatically on his van. Face had moped around the house at Langley looking increasingly disheveled, not once making a serious attempt, let alone a successful one, at picking up a girl in over two whole months. And Hannibal . . .
since their second trial, and their 'capture' by Stockwell, Murdock had seen
Hannibal as a bit of a caged lion . . . unwilling to remain in captivity but unable
to escape. He could see it in his eyes, the defiance every time that Stockwell
sent them on a mission or told them to, "do it my way."
Working for the general didn't sit at all well for any of them, and apparently it was finally starting to really get to all of them. And Murdock didn't like it. He had just spent an afternoon attempting to console an inconsolable Frankie Santana, who had just committed a stupid, though not fatal nor wholly inexcusable, mistake on their last mission. Being more irate than usual, Hannibal had taken out his frustrations on the young man, bawling him out for his mistake. The Colonel had never ascribed to the system by which officers put the fear of God into their troops by yelling at them and scaring them out of their minds whenever they made a mistake. He believed in somewhat, though not much, gentler methods by which the soldier might actually learn from his mistake... and Murdock wasn't happy with the recent changes in his post-mission attitudes. He knew Hannibal would apologize and fix the situation, but Murdock felt that the Colonel never should have been pushed so far that he would snap like that in the first place. And he blamed it solely upon Stockwell.
Hannibal hadn't even made a boastful comment about plans coming together, that last time, and that was when Murdock began to think about what was going wrong with all of them.
watched the thoroughly depressed Frankie leave his apartment with a promise that
he would go straight home, no matter how much he dreaded facing Hannibal again,
Murdock decided it was time to do something.
checked his calendar to be sure that he still had a couple of days, then
grabbed his leather jacket and baseball cap and left the apartment.
***Two Days Later - The Morning of Christmas Eve***
Sitting around silently in the living room, no one felt quite like Christmas. Murdock had disappeared two days ago with a short note saying he'd be back for Christmas dinner. Everyone else had continued to feel the depression that had been plaguing them recently. Even Stockwell seemed more sour than usual. Though that might have been the result of a particular conversation that transpired between him and Hannibal in a private office. It had ended with shouting, a punch, a smash heard by the rest of the team two rooms away, a bruise on Hannibal's arm, a black eye sitting happily on Stockwell's face, and a week of 'Christmas vacation' for the team. The small victory had lifted everyone's spirits for a while, but it hadn't lasted.
***That Night - Christmas Eve***
It was snowing, and Murdock hadn't made it back for dinner.
was sitting in the living room again. Other than the sporadic grabs for the
bowl of popcorn sitting in between Face and Frankie, the only motion was the
impatient tapping of Hannibal's foot and an occasional sneeze from Face, who
kept muttering about being allergic to cold in general.
the door swung open and three heavily coated figures walking in amidst a swirl
of snow. The door closed and the three began to unbutton their coats. The first
recognizable figure to emerge was that of Stockwell.
fluid motion BA stepped forward, pushed Hannibal back into his seat with both
hands on the older man's shoulders, and moved across the room to 'stand guard'
near the door. Hannibal seethed quietly in his chair, Frankie watched the
mild interest, and Face sneezed.
recognized Carla next, and then Murdock. "Hey, guys!" Murdock called
happily. "You won't believe what I got all of you for Christmas . . ."
nodded, waved, or mumbled a greeting in reply.
what a bunch of grinches. You're gonna love this, though!" With that,
Murdock gave Stockwell a hearty slap on the back.
took a step forward under the force of the slap, reaching back with a glare at
Murdock and taking four manila envelopes from Carla. Then he walked into the
passed BA, handing him one of the envelopes, the big man stared for a moment
and then started, amazingly, to giggle. Back in the doorway, Murdock, and even
Carla, were starting to laugh.
went to each of the seated men in turn, handing each of them an envelope. "No,
they're not pardons. I only know what's in his," he said, pointing back at
BA. Then he turned without further comment and started to walk out. When
Hannibal, Face, and Frankie got a good look at his back, they, too, began to laugh.
Murdock slapped him, he had pasted a note onto his jacket. It read, "Kiss
me, I'm a Christmas Elf!"
was silence as Stockwell and Carla put their coats back on. When they turned to
leave, Face could have sworn that Carla had winked at him.
men looked at the envelopes they each held, then questioningly up at Murdock.
That worthy was grinning happily from ear to ear.
want each of you to take a turn, so I can see everyone's expression perfectly
when they open theirs. I got you guys the *best* gifts in the world!" he
said excitedly, bouncing over in front of Frankie. Pointing at the younger man
he said, "You first."
shrugged and tore open the envelope. He pulled out a single sheet of paper. He
read it over quickly, then again more slowly with a disbelieving look on his
face. Then he jumped up, tears in his eyes, and wrapped Murdock up with a bear
hug, saying, "Thank you, Murdock, that really *is* the best gift in the
laughed and explained to the others, "It's an appointment with a very busy
doctor who happens to be the world's leading specialist in cases like Frankie's
father. Don't worry," he added, looking at Frankie, "the bill is
that and a smile he moved over to BA. "You next, big guy."
opened his envelope and also pulled out a single sheet of paper. He read it
over and then said out loud, "Signed permission from Stockwell to take a month
off and visit Mama! And you can all come if you want!"
had to twist his arm a bit, but he finally agreed!" Murdock laughed.
of the team was now in shock, Murdock seemed to be pulling off the impossible
and giving each of them *exactly* what they wanted most. Murdock laughed happily
at the incredulous look on BA's face and practically pounced on the larger man
with a hug. BA growled, but Murdock could swear he saw a tear forming and heard
whispered in his ear, "Thanks, fool."
Hannibal had both figured out the pattern. Murdock was giving them their
*families.* Hannibal looked agitated and Face looked almost as if he were barely
daring to let himself be hopeful, and the Captain was loving every minute of
went to Face next. "Okay, your turn."
looked up at Murdock for a second, then down at the envelope.
on," Murdock coaxed.
opened the envelope and took out a letter and three photos. Looking at the
photos first, he gasped. "Who . . . ?" he asked Murdock.
pointed at the photo of a very small child. "Well, that's you . . . this
one's your mama's first grade school picture . . . and this one's the woman who
was happy to give me this to give to you. She's a cousin of your mother's,
making her a cousin of yours. They grew up together . . . the letter's from
her. She wants to meet you at the very least, though I got the impression from
her that she'd rather marry Hannibal and adopt the rest of us . . . "
point Face was crying, and he jumped up to give Murdock his third hug of the
evening. "Murdock, how can I ever . . . "
held him for a moment, patting his back and shushing him, before letting him
back down into his seat.
in preparation of the unveiling of the fourth gift, Murdock was mildly
surprised to see tears brimming in Hannibal's eyes as well.
gazes met and Murdock said, "I see you already know what's in yours. I guess
it was too much to expect to leave you 'til last and still have it be a surprise,
hmm?" He grinned.
shook his head and said, "Murdock, how?"
Murdock replied, "I still have some friends in the Company, and it's been
a good two decades since I last asked for a favor. I have a friend who has a contact
in the good doctor's office," he said, motioning towards Frankie. "I
have a friend to whom Stockwell just happened to owe a small favor," he said,
motioning to BA. "And I also have a friend who dabbles in genealogy and
was only too happy to hook me up with possible relatives using his own contacts
in the Company to smooth things out a bit," he added, motioning to Face. "I
just couldn't get over the feeling that there was no way he could be the only
son of two only children, both of who's parents were only children, and thus
the only member of his family the Company could find anywhere in the country
before Christmas," he finished with a grin.
shook his head again, and Murdock got the point. "But I didn't really
answer the question you asked, did I?" he said thoughtfully. He leaned
closer to Hannibal and whispered, "Just because every copy you knew about
of something was destroyed in a fire, doesn't mean that there isn't another one
somewhere, just waiting for the right moment to be found. Open the envelope."
opened the envelope. He slipped out a single photograph, in black and white, of
a woman and a child. As his finger slowly traced the curve of the woman's cheek
he closed his eyes and seemed lost in memory for a moment.
looked up at Murdock again, he was beginning to smile. "Thanks, Murdock,"
he said simply.
pleasure," the Captain replied, adding, "I can't tell you how
wonderfully refreshing it is to see you smile again."
three others knew that, somehow, the picture was of Hannibal's family. They
also knew that they would hear the story when Hannibal was ready to tell it.
Murdock," Face said, "You just gave each of us our *families* for
Christmas, and I don't think one of us got a single thing for you . . . "
worry about it," Murdock said. "I got what I wanted most, I got *my*
family back. You guys were getting so depressing, I had to do *something* to cheer
you up . . . "
was immediately pelted with popcorn from the general direction of Face and
danced happily back to the center of the room, catching some of the popcorn and
tossing it into his mouth. He looked at his smiling friends' faces with
unrestrained glee. "And at the risk of sending you all into shock,"
he grinned, "there's one last envelope here."
pulled a fifth envelope out of his back pocket, where it had been rolled up and
stuffed so that it was hidden. He tossed it to Hannibal.
thought it would be funny to have Stockwell deliver the envelopes, but I didn't
want his slippery fingers anywhere near this one," he said with a laugh. "Well,
go on, open it . . . "
tore open the envelope and pulled out a stack of papers, looking at a few of
them quickly. Then he burst out laughing. "This appears to be a list of
the criminal activities of our favorite General!"
material!" Frankie exulted as he and the others gave a short ovation for
Murdock, who bowed theatrically.
Christmas, guys!" Murdock shouted above the din. "Man, do I love it
when a plan comes together!"
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