Cartoon Heroes
by Darth Stitch & Sparrow

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to 2 TV gods by name of Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell and is now a movie directed by Joe Carnahan. Will put the toys back when we're done.

DISCLAIMER TO SAVE OUR SOULS FROM GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET: You know, Sparrow and I are sharing the same handbasket. We're quite happy together as we wrote this completely on the jazz and sharing brains via YM! No chibi sized Murdock's were seriously hurt in the making of this production.

Sparrow: I set up a fort in her brain. She fed me cookies.

We are the Cartoon Heroes - oh-oh-oh
We are the ones who're gonna last forever
We came out of a crazy mind - oh-oh-oh
And walked out on a piece of paper
Here comes Spiderman, arachnophobian
Welcome to the toon town party
Here comes Superman, from never-neverland
Welcome to the toon town party

- Aqua, "Cartoon Heroes"

Of course, it was an accident.

After the whole adventure in Romania, Face needed some time to recover and Morrie and Fred were keeping a watchful eye on him. While the wound Pallando had dealt the team's lieutenant wasn't exactly from a true Morgul-blade, the effects were close enough to make the Vala and the High Elven lord worry. Hannibal was definitely not inclined to argue at that point.

Of course, it was never a good idea for wanted fugitives to stay too long in any given place and the protections of Club Denial naturally only extended to the territory it was sitting in. All of them were beginning to feel stir-crazy after a while and typically, Murdock bore it the worst out of all of them. As Feanor had put it so eloquently, the pilot yearned to be up in the air as much as his Elven and Numenorean ancestors had longed for the Sea.

There were various ways to channel all that energy though. They were still soldiers, even if they were technically "soldiers of fortune" rather than belonging to the Army, and honing their combat skills was just part of the whole drill. One of the Club Regulars had seen Hannibal and Face going at it with swords and had walked away, shaking his head at the "pure awesome badassery." Considering that said Regular happened to be a certain orange-haired Substitute Shinigami with a huge mother of a sword strapped to his back, that was saying a lot.

But Murdock wasn't just contented with spars and various forms of combat practice. He really needed to play and it was Face who usually indulged that, playing chase and hide and seek and occasionally, plain silly horsing around.

But then, Murdock wanted another playmate and this particular day, he was yelling at B.A. "Come out and play, Bosco!"

"I'm busy, fool!" B.A. yelled back, mostly because he was hanging around Feanor in what was now jokingly referred to by the entire Club as "Dexter's Laboratory." The child genius from Cartoon Network was a safer reference than mentioning the original mad scientist from the Mary Shelley novel, considering some of the Club's other visitors.

But this was Murdock and "No" wasn't always a word he heeded, even at his best behavior. Murdock sauntered over to whatever it was B.A. and Feanor were currently experimenting on. Curious, he said, in his best Dee-Dee impression, "Oooooh! What does THIS button do?"

"No, James - !"

"Fool, don't you touch that - !"


When the smoke cleared, Morrie, Feanor and the rest of the team (Hannibal and Face had known to come running towards an explosion if they knew Murdock and B.A. were anywhere in the vicinity), were presented with a tiny, messy-haired familiar-looking four-year-old boy in the place of their pilot.

"Aw. Hell. No." B.A. groaned, running a hand over his mohawk.

Fred looked down bewildered at the currently child-sized James H.M. Murdock and then at the rest of the A-Team. "I can fix this." Except for Morrie, Feanor shooed all of them out of his laboratory and promptly rushed back inside to attend to the still-smoking remains of the invention. The door slammed shut and they could all hear it being locked securely, Morrie beginning to raise his voice in protest from inside.

The little boy, who was formerly the team's pilot, took a good long look at the equally unfamiliar surroundings and people around him. Bottom lip quivered and big blue-green eyes filled with tears.

"I want my Mom."

Hannibal was not proof against those eyes when Murdock was a grown-up - it was magnified ten times over now that he was four. And from the looks of things, Face and BA weren't immune to it either.

Surprisingly, it was B.A. who first went over and knelt down so that he could look the child in the eye. "It's okay, little brother. We ain't gonna hurtcha. Your momma just asked us to look after ya for a while."

Murdock sniffled and wiped a hand across his already runny nose. Staring at the large black man who came over, he slowly raised his arms up to be picked up. B.A. complied without complaint - they all had a soft spot for kids and B.A., for all his gruff exterior, was definitely no exception.

The child laid his head against the larger man's shoulder and asked the most important question. "Where's my Mom?"

Uh-oh. Naturally, the two younger members of the team looked at Hannibal, expectantly waiting for him to come up with the cover story. The Colonel slanted a look at his second in command. Although he didn't say it out loud, 'Why me?' was written all over him.

And Face, damn him, picked a wonderful time to play Jedi. "Cause you're the man who always has a plan, Boss," Face hissed out of the corner of his mouth.

Great. Wonderful. Thank you for reminding me, Templeton. Hannibal thought sourly. Fortunately, Hannibal pretty much had the background facts about his boys memorized. From what he recalled, Murdock had lost his father at around this age and Hannibal was praying Murdock's memories would not yet include this, because it was the only plausible one he could come up with in less than a minute, given what B.A. had just told the child. "Your Mom had to go take care of your Dad for a while. They'll be home as soon as he's better, kiddo."

"Daddy's sick?" Murdock asked.

Damn, damn, damn. Hannibal didn't want to scare the little guy. "Yes, I'm afraid so. But he'll get better soon."

"Is it like the chicken pox? Billy says that's really nasty."

"Yeah, exactly like that," Face jumped in. Finally. "Really bad. You don't want to be sick with that, it ain't fun, no sir."

Murdock made a face, tongue sticking out a little between his teeth.

Face copied him and that made the little boy giggle.

"Yer weird," Murdock drawled out.

"Oh he's saying I'M weird!" Face said in mock-affront.

"You always was as weird as the fool, Faceman," B.A. snorted.

"Yer weird!" Murdock chirped again.

Hannibal and B.A. couldn't help it anymore - they burst out laughing.

"Momma says I'm not s'posed to talk to strangers. 'Specially if they're weird!"

"Oh is that all?" Face said, sighing dramatically. "I'm Face. That big bear holding you is Bosco but we call him B.A. because he's got a bad attitude - "

"I'll give you bad attitude right here Faceman," B.A. growled.

Blue-green eyes went wide at the growl. "Are you really a bear?"

"Oh don't scare the baby, B.A.," Hannibal chided him.

"Well, he's one of the Bears," Face explained further. "The good-looking Irish guy with the cigar's Poppa Bear. But sometimes we just call him Colonel Smith or Hannibal."

"Irish?" The little boy asked curiously.

"'Cos he talks funny sometimes. Just listen," Face said, still grinning.

"That smart mouth of yours is writing a check your ass can't cash, boyo," Hannibal grumbled, slipping the reins on his brogue and exaggerating it just a tad.

Murdock gasped, mouth forming a little circle. "You said a bad word!"

"See? Talks funny, doesn't he?" Face laughed.

"But he said a bad word!" Murdock pointed out again. "Don't you need to wash his mouth out with soap?"

Hannibal had flushed with embarrassment and had simply reached over and mussed up the soft brown hair. "Sorry, kiddo. We grown-ups are allowed to say bad words sometimes. Especially when we have silly lieutenants who drive us up the wall."

Murdock batted away at the Colonel's hand, regarding him thoughtfully and then he grinned. "You do talk funny." He looked at Face. "He sounds like he's singing."

Face was laughing so hard now that tears were in his eyes. "Irish, what can I tell you?"

Hannibal just blushed as BA adjusted his grip on Murdock.

And then, Murdock decided he wanted to switch over and reached out to Hannibal, who dutifully took him from B.A.

The Colonel and his currently tiny pilot regarded each other thoughtfully for a few moments.

"Hey, Baby Bear," Hannibal told him, poking him lightly in the tummy with a finger. Now the nickname really did fit him.

Murdock giggled and tried to grab the finger. "I'm not a baby bear."

"Well, then what are you?" Face asked, all serious.

"I'm a bird," Murdock replied back, equally serious.

"He would be!" B.A. snorted.

"Nope," Hannibal disagreed, still playfully teasing. "He be a pirate! Arrrr!"

"Arrrr! Avast me hearties! Polly wanna cracker?" Murdock giggled again, doing a credible imitation of Hannibal's pirate accent.

"He'd be a parrot and that's still a bird - he's got you there, Hannibal," Face laughed.

"Just remember, Baby Bear," Hannibal was telling Murdock. "That if I get to be Poppa Bear - that makes Face over there Momma Bear."

"Hey!" Face protested half-heartedly.

"I'm not a Bear! I'm a bird!" Murdock rejoined. "Arrrr!"

"A pirate parrot, then," Hannibal pronounced grandly. So far, they were doing a good job of keeping the kid calm.

"So, now what?" BA voiced aloud.

"We're going to have to watch him for a while... at least until his Uncle Fred figures out how to get our pilot back the way he was before."

"Can't we keep him this way?" BA said half-jokingly. "Fool's easier to deal with, not to mention cute as a button."

Those were famous last words. Inevitably, Feanor needed more time to get his invention repaired so their pilot was currently stuck as a little kid for the next few days.

One ofthe first things they figured out was that Murdock apparently came by his penchant for mimicry quite naturally.

"Pity Da Fool!" Murdock chirped happily, having heard that expression from B.A. and inevitably latching on to it.

"Aw. Hell. No." B.A. facepalmed. "You can't let the fool do this to me, Hannibal!"

"Do what, BA?" Hannibal asked innocently, although he knew exactly how their poor sergeant was feeling at the moment.

"Bosco's overloading on the cute, Colonel," Face grinned, picking up their pint-sized pilot and tickling him.

Murdock giggled. "Hell! Hell!"

Hannibal winced and then waggled a finger at Murdock. "I suppose it's way too late to teach you not to say those words, HM?"

"Hell!" Murdock chirped out again, pumping his arms into the air in a victory sign.

Face grinned. "Way to go, 'Poppa Bear' - I can see I'm going to have to be the disciplinarian in this family!"

"Poppa and Momma Bear!" the little boy crowed. And then he pointed at B.A. "Big Brother Bear! Whee!"

Face slanted the other two a Look. "All right, which of you gave him the candy when it's so close to his bedtime?"

Sheepishly, Hannibal and B.A. pointed at each other.

Face sighed. "You two are hopeless."

The odd thing was that a four year old Murdock fit right back into their team as if he'd always belonged there. Even if, technically speaking, said four year old shouldn't be around three men who were currently denizens of Outlawsville. Of course, it was about the second (or was that third?) day of Murdock's inadvertent return to childhood that Morrie wryly pointed out that the kid was going to forget how to walk soon, since it was apparent that he was almost always being carried around by one of them.

"Walk?" Face said in mock-affront, even as it was currently his turn to carry their miniature pilot around. "What is this walk you speak of?"

Morrie snorted and then shoved a purple stuffed dog into Face's arms. "Give that to him. Fred is working on fixing the tech and hopefully soon we can get our little James back to his normal age."

"Billy!" Murdock crowed, hugging it to him fiercely.

BA's eyes widened considerably.

"Well that certainly explains a couple of things," Hannibal murmured to Face as Murdock gnawed on Billy's pointed ear.

And so, little Murdock and Billy were now being carried around at least by one of them at any given time, especially when the child happily said that he liked the view from all the way up there. It helped that he currently had three very tall and very indulgent uncles, who didn't mind carting an armful of four year old and stuffed dog.

Also, Face knew that "good-looking male plus small adorable child" was an instant chick magnet.

"Is he your son? He's so adorable!" cooed a rather generously endowed redhead.

It would have been nice if said comment had been directed at Face himself, but not when the redhead was all too hungrily eying Hannibal. Hannibal didn't know it but his lieutenant was also seeing red. And it was not the good kind of red either.

Face was definitely not happy when the tables were turned on him, watching Hannibal get way too much more female attention than Face was willing to let his Colonel have.

It was just absolutely unbelievable how unaware Hannibal could be about his own attractiveness and would, God help them all, actually shyly duck away from that whole topic, if somebody called any attention to it. Which, of course, made him all the more appealing to the ladies.

Of course, if that whole "shy" deal was just an act on Hannibal's part, Face was going to kill him.

Yes, Face was a possessive, selfish bastard. Even if Hannibal actually allowed Face a long leash on the flirting deal, as long as it stayed firmly on that level and nothing more. Face was being unfair and he knew it but he absolutely could not help himself.

After all this time, Hannibal was fairly good at reading Face, even if the younger man had a better poker face than Hannibal himself did. Face getting all jealous and possessive was fairly new to him though, even if it was somewhat amusing and roused every possessive and protective instinct he had in turn.

The signs were obvious to anyone who knew Face as well as Hannibal did. Face would smile, but those beautiful blue eyes would go icy cold and Hannibal was prepared to swear up and down there was a touch of green there. If there were other people watching, a gentle hand on Face's neck helped to settle him down, even if Hannibal rather thought of the action as smoothing down the ruffled fur of a very pissed off kitten.

Today, Face had taken Murdock out to get a few clothes in his size - most of Murdock's old clothes from his childhood had been given away a long time ago. Hannibal himself had gone out to meet an old contact who had some very interesting news to spill on the military's search for them. Hannibal needed that intel and he'd gone on to meet up with Face and Murdock on his way back. Inevitably, he'd found his lieutenant enjoying himself in the company of a number of very lovely young women, cooing over him and his small charge.

Hannibal was just amused and somewhat mortified when the cooing was transferred to him once Murdock happily went over to greet his "Poppa Bear" and the women realized he and Face were actually together, so to speak. If anything, it apparently garnered more attention from the ladies.

Somehow he managed to get himself, Murdock and Face out of that situation and he wryly noted that his partner was still fuming about the whole thing. There wasn't any help for that until he had finally managed to get Murdock foisted off on B.A., who was assigned to taking care of their little pilot's bedtime tonight. Finally, Hannibal had Face all to himself, in the privacy of their bedroom.

Face would probably kill him for this but Hannibal rather liked seeing his very silly better half in a jealous snit. It gave Hannibal the perfect excuse to kiss his lieutenant senseless and afforded him a chance to figure out more ways to make Face go completely boneless in his arms.

"John..." Face moaned softly, burying his hands in Hannibal's hair, instinctively seeking out more contact between their bodies and making them both intensely aware that they had far too many clothes on as of that moment. But before they could rectify that situation, they were interrupted with a loud sniffle in the doorway.

Oh hell. They'd forgotten to lock the door.

"Can I sleep here?" Murdock asked as he rubbed his eyes, his other hand clutching Billy.

Hannibal and Face exchanged looks, knowing they both had the same identically rueful expressions and the two men knew there would be no further continuing their lovemaking into the night.

Face went over and picked his currently miniature buddy up. "Of course you can."

Fortunately, Murdock didn't put up too much of a fuss as Face and Hannibal got ready for bed themselves and let him burrow under the covers between the two men. Billy clutched tight in grubby hands, Murdock curled into a ball, tight against Face's chest.

It was surprisingly easy to fold the little guy into his embrace and again, the two men exchanged amused looks over the child's head.

But Murdock wasn't ready to sleep just yet.

"Facey?" asked a small little voice. "Why you 'tiss Hannibal all the time?"

Oh, Hannibal couldn't resist this one. He chuckled. "Yeah, Facey, why you 'tiss me all the time?"

It was fun to watch his partner's cheeks turn completely red and flounder at the innocent question. They'd all learned in the span of a few days that four-year-old Murdock was a bright little kid and there was no easy way to evade his curiousity.

"Um...I'll explain it to you when you're older?" Oh, Hannibal was absolutely sure that Face was going to kill him for this. Face also muttered. "Hannibal was doing most of the 'tissing a while ago..."

Murdock frowned. "Daddy says he tisses Mommy 'cos he loves her muchly. Is it the same way with you and Hannibal?"

Face took that out gratefully and once again, he traded a rueful look with Hannibal's laughing one. "Yeah. Exactly like that."

Nodding to himself, Murdock curled into the ball again and wiggled backwards until he hit Face's body, brought Billy in tight again and finally, fell asleep.

Hannibal and Face watched Murdock for a moment or two and squashed the urge to 'aw' when the pint-sized pilot stuck a thumb into his mouth.

Face ran a hand over Murdock's hair. "What are we going to do, Hannibal? I kinda like him like this, he' from being on the run if he's this age. But I miss our Murdock."

The little boy murmured in his sleep and Hannibal ran a hand soothingly over his back. "I know, Face. Morrie and Fred could look after him again if they had to - "

"No!" Face protested.

"Hush, Templeton - I don't like it either. But it's too dangerous for him, especially if Fred can't figure out a way to turn him back."

Face angrily huffed. "I know, but - it's Murdock!"

"I know and that's why if it comes down to it, we'll have to do what's best in Murdock's interests," Hannibal soothed.

And then, Murdock screamed, sitting up, blue-green eyes wide and frightened.

Hannibal was the first person he spotted and the child immediately turned to him, whimpering. Hannibal took the little boy into his arms. "It's all right, Baby Bear. Just a bad dream, hmmm?"

"It exploded!"

"What, baby?"

"The Humvee. We were there and it blew up and Facey got hurt and you were hurt too and I was so scared!"

Face and Hannibal could recall that incident - one of their missions that had gone completely and utterly FUBAR. That wasn't a memory that rightly belonged to a four year old child. Evidently, the question of letting Murdock stay as a child was now moot.

"Shhhh, it's all right, just a bad dream," Face soothed the small child. "See, me and Hannibal are alright."

"It happened! It really did!" Murdock insisted. "I'm not making things up! I'm not!"

"It did, baby," Hannibal said simply. There was no help for it. "But you saved Face and me that day. So that's why we're all right. Okay?"

Murdock looked up at him, blinking away furious tears. "I saved you?"

"Hannibal," Face hissed. He didn't want his friend to suffer anymore then he already had.

But Hannibal understood that the best way to chase away childhood fears was to face them head on. More so for Murdock, who, as an adult, blended fantasy and reality so well that most of the time, they tended to take what he said less seriously and sometimes, missed a whole lot of the truth that way. "Yeah you did. Came swooping down in your Black Hawk and got us away. The best pilot in the whole damn Army." He tweaked Murdock's nose for emphasis.

"You said a bad word again!" Murdock giggled.

Face sighed.

"So back to sleep, Captain Murdock," Hannibal said. "That's an order, soldier."

"Yessir!" Murdock saluted and that salute was fairly credible in itself. He yawned and burrowed his way back into Face's side, holding on to his shirt.

They would sleep like that for the rest of the night, Murdock cuddled between them.

Unfortunately, it was just the beginning.

For the next two weeks, their little pilot would begin to suffer from nightmares, some of which were obviously memories that belonged to a much older Murdock. It had gotten so bad that Murdock could not sleep well unless he was cuddled between "Poppa and Momma Bear."

But somehow, every morning, the little guy would wake up with a bright grin and his sunny disposition firmly in place, as if he hadn't spent part of the night crying in fear and terror.

Currently the pint-sized pilot was miming flying an airplane while 'Uncle Fred' set up his invention.

Club Denial had been closed down for the day, just in case of any mishaps.

To Face's amusement he could tell Murdock was actually pressing buttons and working pedals and the control stick. But to Hannibal's eyes, who had sat up at the front with Murdock most of the time, the toddler was actually 'flying' an airplane.

"And that's how we deal with heatseekers, chaps!" The little boy chirped in a remarkably dead-on British accent. "We go cold!"

"He's remembering the mission from Mexico?" BA asked incredulously. "I thought the mini-fool was only remembering things in dreams and nightmares?"

"Oh. Fook," Murdock said, holding his head. "I think I see prawn people."

Face had run to pick him up immediately. Nobody had the heart to chide the little boy for his use of a certain F-word in a credible South African accent yet.

"Prawn people, weren't they those aliens a while back?" BA asked Hannibal. "Why would the kid be remembering about prawn people?"

"Who knows, BA," Hannibal shrugged. "Even before Murdock joined us, he was part of several opertations I never had access to. Most of his files were blacked out."

Morrie shrugged. "He's had a interesting life even before he ended up with you lot - being a trouble magnet is a family trait."

Hannibal's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You wouldn't happen to know exactly what happened to your favorite nephew, would you, Morrie?"

Morrie, naturally, was proof against That Look. "I'm afraid I can't say. It's James' story to tell."

"Fook. My head hurtses, Facey," The child whined.

Face stroked the little boy's hair. "It's ok. It'll all get better soon."

"How's that invention of yours going, Feanor?" Hannibal called, sharing a worried glance with his partner.

Looking at Face with sad and pained eyes, Murdock sniffled. "I'm getting grow'd up again, aren't I?"

Face looked startled. "How'd..."

"Rememberin' more and more stuff," Murdock explained. "You and Hannibal and Bosco. And you wanted to 'tiss Hannibal a long time ago."

"Five more minutes!" Feanor called out.

"Fook," the child grumbled.

"Hey, I'm gonna wash that mouth of yours with soap, Baby Bear," Face chided him.

Murdock stuck his tongue out at Face and then clutched his head again, whimpering in pain. Face pulled Murdock close.

"Make it go 'way, Colonel," Murdock called out. "They're gonna cut me up 'cos I'm turning into a prawn person!"

"What the hell?" Hannibal voiced aloud as he headed over.

He stroked the child's back soothingly, even as he wondered about what Murdock was talking about. He'd heard about that human who was apparently turned into one of the aliens. Surely that couldn't be his pilot...

Still, he didn't miss a beat as he comforted the child. "Nobody's going to cut you up, HM. They're going to have to go through me first."

"What is the mini-fool blabbering about now?" BA growled out, but they could all hear the worry lacing his tone.

"What was that guy's name..." Face began. He knew that story too.

"Don't say it, Face. He's got enough to deal with now," Hannibal warned him.

"Momma Bear!" Murdock cried out in distress.

Hearing Murdock cry out for him made paternal instincts Face never knew he had rear up. He held his friend close, letting tiny legs wrap around him as a hand clung to his shirt and a tiny head rested on his shoulder. "Easy, Baby Bear, I gotcha, I gotcha."

"Feanor," Hannibal growled. "ETA on that invention of yours?" He knew that Murdock could not take it anymore.

"Two more minutes, Hannibal," Feanor muttered as he connected various wires.

"Patience - you don't want this thing to explode on us again, Colonel," Morrie added, worriedly watching his partner.

Hannibal fought down the urge to swear colorfully. He could probably get away with it if he tried a few different languages but there was always the chance that four year old Murdock, who was just as good with languages as he was, might still understand.

"Jesus," Face swore. Murdock was whimpering, face buried in his neck.

"There, all done." Feanor sighed.

"Finally!" B.A. growled.

With some gentle coaxing, they were able to get Murdock out from his current and rather comfortable hiding place.

The child's eyes were wide and bright with tears. "Is it gonna hurt?"

"I promise you, you won't feel a thing, James," Feanor promised from his position behind the whatever that cockamamie invention was.

Murdock sniffled. "'kay."

"You can't promise him that," Face whispered harshly in Fred's ear.

"Yes, I can." The Elf's eyes were calm and gentle. "I took care of him the first time around, Templeton. What makes you think I'd let him come to harm now?"

"And if this doesn't work, I'm going to start calling in a few favors," Morrie grumbled. "I'd go to war again with my siblings if I had to, just to get our boy back the way he should be."

"Melkor," The Elf chided him, but laughter was dancing in those grey eyes.

"Just sayin'," Morrie muttered.

"Wuv you, Uncle Fred," Murdock sighed. "Wuv you too, Uncle Morrie."

"And I you, James." The Elf said and kissed the child on his brow even as Morrie blushed and mumbled a still-audible "Ditto" under his breath. "Now, do you think you could let go of your friend so we can make you all better?"

Nodding, Murdock reluctantly let go of Face and stood as still as he could in front of the Elf's invention. But Face could still make out the pain lines marring his friend's childish features. He was getting even worse.

For a brief, crazy moment, Face wanted to grab his friend, Hannibal and B.A. and run the hell out of there and preferably hide somewhere safe where they could raise their buddy back to adulthood all over again. He just knew that it was impossible and it wasn't fair - this second childhood was a false one and Murdock really needed to return back to normal.

It was just hard to let him go.

Fred stood behind the large piece of technology, resting innocently on the wooden table, pressing a series of buttons. Oddly enough, it bore a distinct resemblance to a flashlight.

A beam of light erupted from the machine and engulfed Murdock.

There was a puff of smoke and Morrie quickly hurried to open a few windows.

As soon as the smoke cleared, the others could make out an adult sized Murdock, complete in chucks, Jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and red cap perched on his messy hair.

" 'Bye, Baby Bear," Face murmured even as he and the rest of the team hurried over to see if their friend was all right.

The pilot was unconscious, but he didn't appear injured or harmed.

Blue-green eyes opened. "Fook. Anybody got the number of the truck that hit me?"

Hannibal raised an eyebrow at the distinctly South African swearword. "Spend some time in Johannesberg much, Captain?"

Murdock contrived to look amazingly innocent. "Oh you know us flyboys. We get around a lot, Colonel."

"Let's get you up, fool," BA grumbled as he helped Murdock up.

"Aw Bosco! You care!" Murdock teased as he was helped to his feet. "Does that mean you'll play with me now?"

"Hell. No." BA growled out and stalked off. Snippets of mutterings filled the air, mostly the word 'fool' was tossed around a lot.

Feanor slumped in relief. "Oh, thank the Valar."

"You're welcome," Morrie told him with a smug grin. "Come on, Feanor - let's get you some coffee. James is in good hands."

Murdock waved goodbye to his two obviously exhausted uncles. And then, spinning on his heel so he faced Hannibal and Face, he pulled them into a tight hug. "Thanks for being my Momma and Poppa Bear." There was a slight sniffle and then a manic grin appeared on the pilot's face. "But now this Baby Bear has to go chase his Big Brother Bear."

Hannibal and Face exchanged looks. They'd both been wondering if Murdock was going to remember his brief foray back into childhood.

And then, Murdock added sunnily over his shoulder, "By the way, Facey, you got GREAT maternal instincts!"

Face sputtered. "Maternal instincts? I'll show you my maternal instincts as the kind of mother that eats its own young!"

He made to run after Murdock, never mind if he was suddenly hit by the mental image of an adorable little boy with dark blonde hair and icy blue eyes, his smile and Hannibal's temperament. Thankfully, Face knew he wasn't prone to premonitions. However, he was firmly stopped by a strong hand on the scruff of his jacket.

"ARGH! Hannibal!" Face felt oddly like a naughty kitten stopped right in its tracks and it didn't help that Hannibal was laughing at him in that quiet way of his.

"I can almost hear you 'meow,' Face..." Hannibal teased.

It was a pain in the ass having a C.O. who was a goddamn mindreader. So Face pouted.

Two could play at that game. Face knew perfectly well what that expression of his was going to get him and judging by the sudden flare of heat in his Colonel's eyes, he mentally congratluated himself. Worked like a charm, every single damn time.

The Colonel led them to the spare bedroom that Morrie had lent them during their stay. And proceeded to kiss Face quite thoroughly, reminding him of the rather pleasurable activities that had been denied to them for the past two weeks since they had a child sleeping in their bed.

Just before they closed the door, they heard B.A. yelling, "Fool, I ain't playin'!"

"But BA! I just want some love!" Murdock called back.

Hannibal laughed softly and briefly rested his forehead against Face's. "I think we gave the kids too much sugar again."

"I think that would be your fault, Poppa Bear," Face retorted. That odd, whimsical image of a little boy with their shared traits teased at his subconscious again and Face found himself asking, "John... you think maybe one day, we could..."

Hannibal drew back and regarded him seriously and it was enough to make Face lose his nerve. "Kids... heh... never mind. I'm losing it, that's all."

Face's nervous babbling was interrupted by another brief, achingly gentle kiss. "Maybe one day, Templeton."

Face found himself sharing the same wistful smile as his Colonel. "Yeah." One day, indeed.

And on that note, Hannibal firmly closed the door of their bedroom, shutting the rest of the world firmly behind them for the next few hours. Content that all was right and normal in their world...for now.

- The End -


Hannibabl Muse: (sternly) Wikus, Murdock?

Murdock Muse: (innocently) I see no Bad-Ass Prawn-y Guy hee. No sir. This ain't the alien you're looking for!

Sparrow: Aliens are awesome!


Sparrow: (Starts chanting along) WIKUS! WIKUS! WIKUS!

B.A. Muse: You crazy fools just had to mention He Who Must Not Be Named...

Face Muse: (wistfully) I still miss my Baby Bear...

Sparrow: (Hands Face a chibi!Murdock plushie) There ya go, Face.

Face Muse: (sighs) It's not the same...

Stitch: (hides face in hands) I am not writing MPREG... oh hell no...

Sparrow: (cackles)