RATING: G (some language)
I was a fan of the show as a kid, and rediscovered the series after the movie came out. Even then, I liked Murdock best. Hopefully, I got the character right. I've set this story (possibly a series, though posting will take time, as I'm extremely busy with Real Life) at roughly the end of season four.
"Do I make you nervous?"
"No, of course not."
Murdock sat back in his chair, studying the new psychiatrist. The VA could pick them, he had to admit. This one was pretty – auburn hair, green eyes, pale, soft-looking skin, and best of all (at least to his own preferences), she had nice legs. Long and slim. He was a leg man. Always had been.
He yawned and pretended to be bored, but his agile mind was already forming a clever little plan. "I mean, people often expect Viet Nam vets to suddenly snap, you know? An unfortunate stereotype, really, but it's there. They think we'll end up on a roof with a deer rifle, pickin' people off. Highjack a busload of kids and drive off a pier, Clint Eastwood in hot pursuit…something like that."
"I don't think that at all, Captain Murdock." She made a note in on her yellow pad, her tongue sticking out a little as she wrote. Interesting, he thought. He watched her hands, and allowed a silence to fall between them. She had long, slim fingers. Did she play the piano? There were inkstains on the tips of her fingers, he noted. A writer? Hm. She caught him studying her, and her green eyes leveled with his brown eyes. He gave her a polite smile and she pinked a little and went back to her writing. Her eyes were the color of high-quality jade.
He tried to read her notes upside down, but she had the handwriting of a serial killer – it was probably even more illegible right side up. Why did doctors have such awful hand-writing, he wondered. Was it something they were taught in medical school?
He stopped trying to read her chicken scratch and sat back again, looking up at the disconcerting fluorescent light above, and began running through his plan with meticulous care.
Timing, he knew, was everything. Let her get good and wound up, what with her definitely, absolutely not thinking vets could snap and all, and then… He exhaled slowly, feeling almost predatory. Not that he was going to hurt her. Just give her a nice little cardiovascular workout, get the blood pumping. He could still do that to Face sometimes, in fact. Give him that false sense of security and then lower the proverbial boom. So far, though, he hadn't been able to actually make Face wet his pants. Only time he'd been able to make somebody do that was when he was being awarded the Silver Star – that General, last he heard, still had a facial tic that plagued him to this day.
Her name was Bridget Monroe. New to the VA system, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the world and make everything right, cure all his ills – she was full of ideals that the real world knew full well would never come to be. Why do people keep doing that to themselves, he thought. Things don't change. Been this way since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden.
Murdock kept waiting. He wanted her…
He frowned. Poor choice of words. Face does all the wanting, and the getting, too. Murdock rarely got. He certainly never took. Not here in the psych ward. Most of the nurses looked like Nurse Ratchett or (as proven by his accidentally walking into the wrong room one night) like a bloodhound in a shower cap, except for the young ones, who were way too young for him to even look at. He was no pervert, nor did he rob cradles. He liked women, though. Always had liked them, and he hadn't exactly had that much trouble attracting a few, though he was extremely picky. A couple had even liked him. But he still preferred to get to know a woman before he took it anywhere else, and since this one was his new psychiatrist, he determinedly put that thought away, taking up space in that little box in his head, with his loneliness.
Yeah, so you're lonely. He eyed her coldly, and she stared back at him, pursing her lips nervously. Who wouldn't be lonely in a nuthouse? And when you're lonely and your mind works too fast, you have to find ways of amusing yourself. One day, he would pretend to be General Pershing, chasing Poncho Villa across Mexico. Next, he could try out a new language – lately, he had been using Farsi on the staff, which had sent them running for the happy juice. It wasn't they're fault they didn't speak Farsi. His grasp of the language was still a bit sketchy, but he knew he was getting there. He had asked Face to get him a book on the Farsi language, and some tapes. He liked to the get to the point where he could at least order off a menu and get punched in the face in a bar, in a new language, before he went whole hog on learning it.
Loneliness, he knew, could drive a man crazy. Sometimes he wondered if he had been crazy when he'd come here, or if he was going crazy from being here. Either way, sometimes it kind of got on his nerves. Even made him angry. He had destroyed three pillow last week, punching them. Dr. Richter would have said that he was becoming frustrated. Well, duh, Murdoch thought.
Murdock pushed any bitterness away and put himself back on the correct flight path. He had agreed to stay here, hadn't he? And it was a pretty cushy living, too. No rent to pay, TV, video games…and if necessary, drugs or a nice padded room when he needed some sleep.
He studied her carefully. She was obviously inexperienced. Was this her first diagnostic psych interview? Surely not. Surely she's had some practice at this before they put her in here with him. He glanced at the door, and thought about her superiors upstairs. Not even they would just throw her in here, amongst the truly wild sharks? Her gaze followed his to the door, but when she looked at him again, he only gave her a polite smile again. Don't scare her. Make her think you're harmless. It's not time.
Timing. He counted backwards slowly, from twenty. Plenty of time.
Dr Monroe finally crossed her knees and leaned back in the chair, and he saw her shift and wince a little. Uncomfortable. Tall. She was almost eye level with him. He knew the feeling of never being really comfortable when he sat down. Six feet three inches – it's hard to find a way to sit in a metal chair that didn't make your ass hurt. Hell, it was hard to find a comfortable spot on a sofa. Heaven forbid you try to sleep on one, with your feet dangling off one end and no place to put one arm. You wake up with a crick in your neck that'd kill a giraffe and tingling feet, with your hand asleep. He had screamed and yelled about his bed long enough, when he'd first come to this place, that they had given him a specially fitted one, to suit his height. Just to shut him up. He controlled his expression, not smiling at the memory of how he'd gotten all those trash bags in order to escape from that jail in….where was that again?
She was making more notes on her pad. Murdock surmised that she was getting wound up good and tight now. He felt himself tensing, too, like a good racehorse in the starting gate, ready to run, eager for the bell and the thrill of trouncing the competition. He beat off a smile.
Her reaction was spectacular. She gave a little high-pitched little "Eep!" Her pen flew in the air, as she fell backward, her yellow pad flying behind her. She then gave a shriek of sheer terror, followed by a yelp of pain when she landed – hard – on the linoleum floor. Murdock's amusement was very short-lived. He had hurt her! That had not been part of his plan at all.
"Damn!" He was at her side immediately, helping her up and checking her over quickly for injuries. "Did you hit your head?"
"I don't know…ow…oh, God…" Her skirt was bunched up to her middle, her shirttail was untucked. Murdock noted no blood, however, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Gently, he lifted her off the floor and back to her feet. She stood for a moment, taking slow, deep breaths, trying to gather herself back into something vaguely dignified again. Then she did something he was totally unprepared for: she slapped him.
"I'm sorry!" he yelped, backing away from her, rubbing the reddening handprint on his cheek.
She rounded on him, stalking him like an enraged tigress. "I'm just here to try to help you. I'm just asking you a few, simple questions and you have to go and scare me like that! What did I ever do to you? Huh?"
Murdock noted a Southern drawl in her voice. In a calmer state of mind, her voice would be like aloe on a burn.
"I said I was sorry," he said contritely.
She didn't appear to be placated just yet. "Your file said you were prone to practical jokes and tricks and acting all…all…loony, but this really beats all I ever saw!" She brushed her hair back, green eye snapping with rage. "Grow up!"
"Right. I will. Right now. Scout's honor." He held up his hand, index and middle finger straight up, in the time-honored salute. "Please…I'm sorry. I know I really should behave a lot better. I should pull myself together…and…uh…behave. I am in a mental hospital, after all."
Her anger was dissipating. He saw a glint in her eye, and the corner of her mouth twitched just a little. A little. Humor, he thought. She has a sense of humor. Unlike so many women, he thought with a trace of bitterness brought on by unfortunate experience. But she lifted her chin just the same, and he read generations of command bred into her. Southern belle, he thought. Iron fist in a velvet glove. Daddy was a General. Mama a Junior Leaguer. Granny was probably a Daughter of the Confederacy, and a descendant of at least three signers of the Declaration of Independence.
"I will not accept any such nonsense from you again, Captain Murdock. Now sit!" Her accent was much stronger now.
He obeyed immediately, like a trained Labrador retriever. Knees together, back straight, ass already hurting from the hard metal chair and the unnatural position he had taken. She eyed him for a moment, then righted her chair and, after checking it for what Murdock figured she thought would be a Whoopee cushion or a joy buzzer, sat down. She tucked her shirttail back in and smoothed her hair. Elegant, he thought. She crossed her legs. He looked away. No looking at the legs, he told himself firmly. No thinking about Southern accents and soft skin and green eyes.
She turned to a new page on the yellow tablet. Murdock remained straight in his seat, determined to be on his best behavior. She put her elbows on the table, leaned forward, centered her lovely green gaze on him and nodded.
"Now, shall we begin?"