Author's note: Just a quick little head's up. I'd appreciate opinions on this chapter as well, just because it took awhile and I don't want ti to fall into cutesy territory. haha. Let me know if it does. Well, please enjoy. :D
Room number 8 was at the end of the hall, off by itself and separated from the rest. Yellow sunlight flooded through the wired window; a squared shadow had appeared across the linoleum tiles, and inside a voice was loudly singing "Malaguena Salerosa."
Carrie giggled as Murdock shouted the next line of lyrics. Beside her, the nurse heaved a sigh. She rapped her knuckles on the door and the singing presently stopped.
"Señor Murdock, Miss Reynolds is here to see you."
Carrie peeked through the window to catch a glimpse of him and she could tell he'd been jumping on his bed. The soundproof headphones were pressed over his ears and the cord whirled around him as he turned. His eyes met hers and he hopped off the bed. He pressed himself up to the door and turned to the nurse.
"Guess we part ways for the day, Lupe my dear."
She scowled. "Do not try my patience, Señor."
Carrie exchanged a strange look with him as Lupe went to open the door. Murdock puckered his lips and made an obnoxious kissing sound.
"Aw, c'mon, you know you love me. 'Que eres linda y hechicera' and all that."
Carrie bit her lip to hide a smile, adjusting the strap of her pack. Lupe simply grunted, sneering at Murdock before the door groaned open. He snatched his ball cap from the bed and shuffled out into the hallway, passing it to Carrie as he struggled to get the headphones off. The two of them headed back through the hospital, and she studied the cap thoughtfully, running her fingers over the screaming eagle logo on the front.
"I ever tell you she hates me?"
Carrie looked over her shoulder at Lupe, who was muttering to herself in Spanish as they walked away. She shook her head.
"No. Why would anyone hate you, Murdock?"
He traded the headphones for his baseball hat and tucked it back on to his head. Carrie stuffed the headset in her backpack as they walked.
"Well…she didn't know that I could speak Spanish, and one day I heard her call me something nasty." Murdock looked over at her and smirked. "So I graciously returned the favor."
Carrie laughed. "I'll bet it was priceless."
"Sure was! Course, it doesn't help that she does look like a freaking burro, anyway."
Carrie barely managed to hold back a guffaw and Murdock snickered.
"Oh, come on. She must secretly like you," the former squeaked, trying desperately to keep a straight face.
Murdock shuddered. "Oh, no. That's a no-fly zone if you catch my drift."
Carrie cackled so loudly several doctors and orderlies turned to stare at her incredulously. Murdock shook his head, but still grinned as they pushed open the door leading outside. The summer heat washed over them and they squinted against the glare of the sun. Carrie was still laughing when the door closed behind them and they'd walked past the rows of dormant ambulances.
"Jeez, kid- you've got one hell of a laugh."
Carrie snorted and wiped the tears from her eyes, still smiling. She would have been embarrassed if she'd been with anyone else but Murdock; it would be awhile before she could walk through the hospital without getting a strange look. Pressing a hand to her belly, she attempted to catch her breath once again, but couldn't get his voice out of her head and giggled uncontrollably.
"It was just the way you said it…the look on your face-!"
They skirted the side of the hospital and started forward across the hills where the small lake waited for them. A pair of orderlies walked a good distance behind, ever-vigilant, arms crossed. Carrie glanced once at them over her shoulder and sighed.
"Don't you ever get sick of them?"
Murdock shrugged. "Not really. After awhile, I start to think of 'em like trees y'know? They don't talk, they stay put and they're just there."
Carrie smirked. Her shoes finally hit grass instead of dirt and the breeze brought with it the sweet smell of the little trees surrounding the lake. She led Murdock to the other side, where they could sit on a small ledge facing the hospital and still be in the sight of the orderlies. She pointed.
"See? You can still see her from here."
Murdock followed her gaze and smirked at the sight of the Huey parked on the helipad, rotors slowly turning in the wind. He flopped in the dirt at the edge of the lake and wrapped his arms around his knees, squinting up at the chopper. Carrie shrugged off her backpack, looking out across the lake. The water was deep and clear, perfectly reflecting the sky; sunlight rippled along the waves.
"Y'know they don't let us go swimming?" Carrie sat down beside Murdock and he looked over at her with a frown. "It's stupid. I've always wanted to jump in this lake, soon as I found out there was one here."
Carrie had finished rummaging through her back pack and pulled out two glass bottles, one of which she passed to Murdock. She couldn't help laughing at his surprised expression.
"When was the last time you had an ice cold Pepsi?"
She twisted the cap off of hers and he followed suit, both of the bottles hissing at the same time. Murdock took a swig and drained half the bottle; Carrie merely watched, her question now answered.
"It ain't a beer, chica, but it's almost as good," Murdock finally gasped.
She smiled from behind her bottle. They sat in silence for awhile, drinking the last of the soda and staring back at the hospital. Carrie had to admit, something about it looked different from farther away.
A breeze snapped at their clothes and she squinted as puffs of dust and grass curled into the air behind them. Murdock sighed and leaned back, folding his arms behind his head. He pulled the ball cap over his eyes and wiggled his feet back and forth. Carrie hung her head and picked at the laces of her boots.
"What's up?" he replied, lazily.
"Can I ask you a question?"
He smirked. "Sure you can, even if you just asked me one."
Carrie managed a light laugh and paused before continuing, now hesitant. She didn't want to offend him, or worst of all, lose him as a friend. But there was still a part of her that wondered, that needed to know…
"Well, uhm…are you…really crazy?"
She winced, knowing there wasn't an easier way to say it. Murdock's grin faded just slightly, but he laughed. He pushed the hat up to his forehead and propped himself up on his elbows.
"Is that all?"
Carrie nodded, surprised at his reaction. Murdock raised his eyebrows and watched the sunlight ripple on the lake.
"It's a fair question, chica." He turned and looked at her complacently. "But what kind of crazy are we talkin'?"
She stared at him, unsure how to respond. Murdock let out a short sigh, scrambling to sit up. He pointed at her with his empty Pepsi bottle.
"Lemme rephrase that. There's crazy, like totally and completely can't function crazy, and then there's pilot crazy. You should know about that. We've all got to cope with our inner Yossarian and from time to time he gets us in trouble." He paused to sweep his arm toward the hospital and smirked. "Such is my predicament."
Carrie smiled. "Yossarian," she repeated, "You've read Catch-22?"
"'Course I have, but that was a long time ago. What landed me here, though…" Murdock sighed and trailed off, seemingly to gather his thoughts.
"You don't have to tell me, really," Carrie said, almost apologetically.
"No, no it's okay." Murdock shook his head, tearing up a long blade of grass and twisting it in his fingers. He squinted thoughtfully. "Have you ever heard of the elusive Iraqi Lemming?"
Carrie wasn't sure whether or not to laugh. "Can't say that I have."
"Neither did the field doctors in Kuwait. I ran up and down the LZ screaming the helicopters were going to crush all these little Lemmings and they accused me of being nuts. It took awhile before they made that official, but I made sure I proved it to 'em." Murdock elbowed her arm teasingly. "I guess all that paperwork takes forever to file."
Carrie giggled and nodded. She was pretty damn sure Lemmings couldn't live in the desert, but didn't press the matter any further. Her grin widened and she nodded again.
"So if you ask them, I am crazy. But only on paper," Murdock added with a wink.
He had made a bow out of the blade of grass and tossed it into the lake, rolling to his feet to stand up. He stretched and walked behind Carrie, rolling his shoulders. She looked back at the hospital, at the two orderlies in the distance watching them, and laughed. Murdock's voice called back to her as she stood to her feet.
"I don't know about you, chica but I get pretty bored around here sometimes. I have to get 'em all riled up every now and then. Maybe you can help me next time."
Carrie smirked, brushing the dirt from her slacks. "And how would I do that?"
She hadn't seen him struggling to take off his shoes and socks. Behind her, Murdock tossed aside his ball cap and started toward her at a sprint.
"Hold your breath!" he cackled.
Carrie frowned. "What?"
She turned just in time to see his grinning face before he held out his arms and shoved her from the ledge into the lake. Carrie shrieked and the two of them hit the water with a spectacular splash. The water was surprisingly cold despite the glare of the sun; Carrie surfaced first, sputtering, her bangs plastered to her forehead. Murdock appeared beside her not long after, laughing. He shook his head side to side to get the hair out of his eyes and it stood on-end. Carrie coughed as Murdock whooped.
"What was that for?" the former gasped, attempting to punch his arm.
"Aw, don't be mad at me, now. I can't take you seriously anyway; you look like a sheepdog with all that hair."
Carrie had to laugh at that, trying to push back her hair so she could see. Murdock chuckled and flopped back into the water, backstroking past her. In all actuality the water felt good and they bobbed in the lake for awhile, almost oblivious to the fact the orderlies were rushing over to see what had happened. They skidded to a halt at the water's edge, panting.
"What happened? Is everyone alright?"
Murdock popped up from under the water and waved to them. "Hey fellas! I was aiming for the raft, but I guess I missed it."
Carrie giggled and glanced over at him, and they exchanged a knowing smile.
"We both did."