Author's Note:

Definitely based on the TV series characters - I don't know the movie people well enough. Which says something about the update, doesn't it?






He rolled over onto his front, slipping the pillow out from under him and jamming it over his ears in the darkness.

"Because I'm only asking," came the insistent voice from the other side of the room, "and you'd be the right person to ask - I mean, you knowing about wandering ways, an' all."

"Murdock," he protested from under the pillow, "could you give it a rest until at least five a.m.?"

"But I'm worried, man!" the other bed cried nervously. "What if he never comes back?"

Face pulled in a deep breath, huffing it out so stoutly it was a wonder he didn't make a hole in the pillow. "Then he'll just have to go it alone!" he urged. "Now please, Murdock, for the love of God, could you-"

"But he can't go it alone!" Murdock moaned. "He's too young to live by himself! Do you remember how long it took me to housetrain him?" he demanded. "What if someone else takes him in and they don't know the right food to get him? He's very particular about his food, you know!"

"Billy will be fine. He's a dog. Dogs survive," Face bit out.

"You could be right," Murdock havered.

"And he survived before you got him, right?"

"He did…"

"So he'll be fine. And who says he's not coming back? For all you know, he could be peeing up some tree, thinking right now about how to track his way back here. And that van's got a huge tailpipe. He'll smell his way back if he wants to," Face went on, in his very best convincing voice.

"Yes! Yes it does! Maybe he's on the way back right now!" Murdock cried, overjoyed.

"Like I said. Now please, stop talking to me. It's been a long day and I really, really need some sleep."

"Ok, Faceyman. Whatever you say," he agreed, and from his tone of voice, Face just knew he was grinning ear to ear.

"Thank you," he groaned, trying to relax.

Silence descended upon the motel room, settling on everything very slowly, watching the two beds on opposite sides of the enclosed space.

"Yeah, see? Told you it would be ok," came Murdock's voice from the pitch. It changed into a surprisingly gruff tone that made Face jump: "I know. If you'd asked me instead of that grumpy dude, I'd-a told you the same!"

Face opened his eyes, his jaw already jutting right out in abject impatience. He pushed the pillow off his head slowly, levering himself up on his right elbow to look across the room in the gloom. "Murdock," he said patiently.

"Yeah, I know," Murdock said soothingly, "but Face is my friend. I needed to hear it from him."

"Murdock," Face urged, a little louder.

"Well sure you did," Murdock's gruff voice said. "But I seen people like you folks come through here all the time, I know a good bunch of people when I see it, and I knows you people are good enough. Billy's coming back, just you wait."

"Murdock!" Face shouted.

"Aw, thanks man," Murdock said, a daffy grin glaringly obvious from his voice. "That's very kind of you to say."

"Right, that's it!" Face raged. He yanked back the covers of his bed, swinging his feet to the floor and marching in nothing but a very expensive pair of blue Ralph Lauren pyjama bottoms to the side of Murdock's bed.

The Captain gasped and twisted onto his back, looking up at him with surprise but then a winning smile. "Hi," he gushed. "I thought you were sleeping?"

Face's hands went down. Murdock let out a short sharp girlie scream, squirming to the side. But Face's hands snatched up a pillow and raised it menacingly.

"Murdock, I swear, if you don't stop talking at me and let me sleep, I will ram this pillow so far down your throat-"

"I wasn't talking to you!" Murdock cried quickly in fear. "I wasn't!"

"Oh yeah?" Face demanded.

"Yeah!" Murdock shot back. "I know you're the good-looking one, but really, you do have an inflated sense of self - there are other people here, you know!"

Face just raised the pillow higher. Murdock put both hands out to stop him.

"Wait!" he pleaded. "I wasn't talking to you - I was talking to Sal!" He uncurled the fingers of his right hand to reveal a round piece of soap, lovingly wrapped in a paper covering that read 'Mary's Rest Motel, Topping'. "See? Ain't he cute! You gotta admit, he's the coolest little free soap we ever got from one of these places! And he talks back, too!"

Face just emitted the kind of high-pitched, tortured whine which would have beaten even an emotionally-shredded Billy in the piteousness stakes. He staggered a whole step back, dropping the pillow to the pilot's bed and wheeling around on the spot. Murdock sat up, watching him go resolutely to his bed. Face grabbed the blankets, pulling them free and wrapping them round his arm. Then he walked slowly to the door, his hand landing on the doorknob before Murdock realised what he was doing.

"Hey, where you going?" he called cheerfully. "You need a soda? There's a vending machine on the third floor."

"I'm going to find an open window," Face said tonelessly, even as he opened the door.

"Why?" Murdock asked innocently. "You shouldn't get too close to them - people leap out of them all the time at the VA hospital. Makes a mess."

Don't think it hadn't crossed my mind, Face pouted. "I'm going to keep a look-out for Billy," he managed.

"Ngaw, thanks man! You're the best friend I ever had!" Murdock gushed.

Face stepped out quickly and closed the door with a firm click, leaning back on it. He took a deep breath, let it out in a steady stream, and tried to clear his mind. He could already hear a fun conversation going on inside the room again, catching phrases like 'Faceman's the best' and 'I could tell he was your friend' before he decided he really had to find a different place to stand.

Dragging his blankets over his arm, and his sense of guilt away from his friend's innocence, he turned to his left and began to walk to the end of the corridor. He passed the other doors, ignoring the numbers and the feel of the warm carpet beneath his feet. He stopped at the doors at the end, opening the large glass exit and stepping outside.

Closing the door behind him, he let himself start to relax as he surveyed the countryside right by the hotel. There, on the second floor, he found a stillness and serenity he knew would go very well with his desire to sleep until either Hannibal or BA decided to find out why he wasn't at breakfast. Or perhaps lunch.

He nodded to himself, uncurled the blankets to throw them round his shoulders, and took the few steps to get round the stanchion that led to the loungers. He fancied he could already feel the firm support of one in his back, the warm night breeze over his face, the absolute certainty of a quiet place to curl up and rest.

As he turned the corner he felt an almost overwhelming sense of unease about having been so angry with Murdock. He shook his head, consigning the spat to the pile of ammunition that would serve them well in the round-robin competition of winding each other up.

I'm kind of glad he won though, this time. I think. He pushed it all from his tired brain, lifting his watch to find it creeping up to two o'clock in the morning.

A sound of creaking wood made him stop and glance up. He had time to see a young woman putting her hands to the wooden railings of the balcony. She seemed intent on pushing to lift herself over them.

Two things went through his head: 36-29-38, and Murdock was right about the open windows.

He threw the blankets out of his way. Leaping over a lounger, he grabbed at her sides from behind. "What are you doing?" he cried, appalled.

"Let go of me!" the woman protested.

Face did no such thing. In fact, he pulled back so hard she was wrenched from the railings and pummelled into him. They went flailing backwards with matching cries of dismay, landing on the decking right between the two available - and soft - loungers.

So much for luck, he grumped, knowing the back of his head and his elbows were really going to protest such forceful contact in a scant few minutes. However, the rest of him was quite amenable to the realisation that the woman was now spread-eagled on her back - on top of him. Actually, it could be worse, he thought.

She squirmed and he helped her roll off him, already snapping-to, ready to help her up. She grasped at his arms, letting him lift her until she was sitting on the edge of the lounger behind her. Her fingers dug into his skin, and he looked down, getting his own breath back.

"You're ok," he said quickly. "Look, take a breath, alright? Relax a little."

She nodded, dragging in air and then daring to look up. Her breath stopped for an entire second as she stared at him. Then she remembered to breathe again. "I know what this must look like," she managed.

Face glanced around, didn't spot anything remotely helpful, and instead shuffled to one side, sitting on the lounger next to her. She let go of his arms quickly.

"Really?" he breathed, taking in her flawless face, her flowing light brown hair, the green eyes and perfect nose. Her faded blue t-shirt trembled as she got her equilibrium back, her jeans leaning against his pyjamas as she began to let her muscles ease. "Do you have a name?" he tried slowly.

"Debbie," she nodded, then pushed herself away from him with an abrupt attempt at propriety, looking him up and down as she slid further up the lounger to put a discreet distance between them. "What are you doing out here?"

"If I told you, you wouldn't believe me," he sighed, before running a hand through his hair. "Are you still thinking of throwing yourself off the balcony? Or can I relax a little? It's just that it's hard to sleep if you think someone's going to make a mess like that."

She actually smiled, which caused him to do the same. Bingo, he heard in his head.

"I wasn't throwing myself off a balcony, I was-. Never mind. Do you have a name?" she asked, running her fingers through her hair to pull it from her face, flicking it over her shoulder.

"Templeton," he blurted, as if kicked.

"Sounds like a lawyer name to me. Are you a lawyer?"

"Sometimes," he said, then clamped his mouth shut. He cleared his throat. "So listen, ah… Are you going to be ok? I mean, do you want someone to be your suicide watch?"

"Do you come with experience?" she asked.

Face's mouth opened. His expression flipped from wickedly mischievous to way-too-innocent at the reply that came to mind, so he closed his potential smut-peddling device again quickly. She giggled, her nose wrinkling slightly in her amusement, and he beamed, using his entire complement of teeth.

Jackpot, he nodded to himself.



"Well I'm worried about him, Colonel," Murdock moaned, watching both Hannibal and BA go about the serious business of demolishing pancakes, orange juice, black coffee and milk as if it were a Morrison-mandated order of action itself.

"Now, Murdock," Hannibal said slowly, "what are the odds he found some girl, and therefore ways other than your valuable insight to be kept up all night?"

"Pretty good," Murdock said glumly. "But he was really down when he left! It was like Billy disappearing really got to him, you know?"

"You said the dog was invisible, fool!" BA barked suddenly. "How can he 'disappear'?"

"BA has a point," Hannibal said firmly, putting down his coffee cup and looking up at the now pacing pilot. "We'll give Face until lunchtime, Captain. Then maybe we'll go roust him from whatever girl's caught his eye this time."

"Yes Colonel," Murdock said quietly, turning away and bouncing down on the chairs under the television. He folded his arms across his bright red t-shirt that read 'RAWR is 'I love you' in dinosaur' and was ostensibly content to watch the news channel.

BA leaned a little closer to Hannibal across the table. "If you ask me, Face just ran off before all that crazy man's talk drove him nuts too."

Hannibal's smile was small but perfectly formed. "Face has more experience with Murdock. He knows when to run," he agreed, an amused glint to his bright blue eyes. "I'm sure he's just in some spare room he's managed to wrangle from the staff, sleeping like the dead."

"Huh," BA judged, eschewing the coffee to refill his glass of milk. "Faceman don't sleep like the dead," he observed. "He just moans a lot."

"Well at least we're not there to hear them. -It," Hannibal corrected himself, as he stuck a fork in the pancake with a lot of relief.

BA shook his head. He went back to the idea of milk - with just as much relief.


Wheeee! And here we go, writing for another fandom I said I'd never do...