Murdock squinted his eyes as he tried to get a sharp picture. Oh, why, hello there, Emily 2.
He tried to ignore the still present throbbing pain in his head, struggling to an upright position but got shoved back down on... the bed...?
The pilot blinked once again, finally recognizing the Colonel's face.
"Uh, good morning? Did I oversleep? Sorry 'bout this, guys.", he chuckled, still feeling as exhausted as ever.
"'Sleep'?! More like 'dropped dead and freaked the hell out of us'!", Face cried out from behind.
"Yeah, well, I figured I didn't really sleep since I still like someone blew up my chopper with me inside.", Murdock shrugged before he jolted up,
wide-eyed, staring at the conman.
"You- you didn't really do that, right? You wouldn't, right?!" Face carefully nudged his shoulder and pushed him back into the pillows.
"Of course not, geez! -" Then Hannibal cut in. "So, Murdock, mind telling us what's wrong? This one gave us quite a scare."
"Scarier than the time we had to escape from a crumbling military platform with that one-winged plane?", the pilot grinned tiredly.
"Don't remind me of that one, Captain.", the older man said firmly, "And don't remind B.A. He still doesn't know the whole story about that one."
Murdock chuckled weakly. Which, of course, didn't keep his friends from waiting for an answer.
"So...?", Face finally pushed, much to the pilots chagrin. "What is it, buddy, come on, I'm really worried there... Nightmares? Something with your meds?
Angry at someone? Aw, come on, B.A. didn't mean it... Even volunteered to finish the loading with his van.
Should be here anytime soon, now that I think about it."
"'m not angry at the big guy, Faceman... Just..." Murdock shifted uncomfortably in the bed. "You know-" - "No, we don't, Captain." The pilot winced. Right.
"I can't sleep.", he finally admitted, visibly distressed. Hannibal waited patiently. "'Can't sleep' because...?"
Murdock snapped. "NO! No 'because'! I. Just. Can't. Sleep!", he cried out.
Slightly taken aback, there was a moment of silence in the room until Face whispered "Oh boy, should have told me this before that bet..."
as he rubbed across his upper lip.
"This is no laughing matter, Lieutenant.", the older man reminded. "I know Hannibal, I know...", he sighed, "I'm just glad it's not some kind of exotic fatal
illness...", he then added silently.
"Awww- Faceman, no worries. Crazy people don't catch exotic illnesses.", the pilot chimed in with a weak chuckle. Face gave him a worried smile.
"Yeah, sure thing." Then he tilted his head. "You know, if you had trouble falling asleep, you just should have said so. Pretty sure I could organize
some magic pill for your daily share of beauty sleep."
The pilot shook his head. And instantly regretted it. Ugh, headache, what a bummer.
"No can do." Besides, he was already good looking enough, wasn't he? Really, Face. Twenty demerits.
"I assume this might be a bad idea since we don't know whether it would interfere with one of the other meds." Hannibal thoughtfully stroke his chin.
Murdock blinked tiredly. Yeah, that was the other point. Good point.
Face looked at him with furrowed brows, mouthing 'other meds?' but didn't speak up. Instead, he ran his fingers through his hair and cleaned his throat.
"Well, hell, what to do? You definitely have to sleep. What, uh, what now? Should I read a book to you?"
The Colonel seemed to try his best not to laugh at that remark.
The pilot on the other hand, just had a slightly annoyed, mocking glance left. "Yeah, no way. I've had enough of bedtime stories." The conman blinked.
"What, Faceman, don't you know the stories?", Murdock whispered in a hushed voice that caused the conman to raise an eyebrow. "'The stories'?" -
"Yes, yes, yes, you know, about how you shouldn't stay up for too long because else they'll come and get you...", he explained conspiratorially.
"Nobody's coming to get you, you fool.", B.A. grumbled as he tamped through the door, a plastic bag in one hand a carton filled with food in the other one.
Meanwhile, Hannibal's eyes had adopted a slightly amused glint. "Captain, are you, by any chance, talking about some kind of folklore?"
"Yeah, yeah, right, stupid tiny creatures throwing sand into your eyes-" The older man shot him an odd look. B.A. stared, slightly confused,
before he snapped out of it and put the box on the table and threw the plastic bag into the pilot's lap.
Murdock halted and eyed the unknown flying object while B.A. turned to the other two men.
"Hannibal, this ain't no time for fairy tales. I heard some sirens down the road and I reckon it's some foolish police squad.", he snorted
and shot the other three an disapproving look as in 'feel-like-I-should-mention-this-as-I'm-obviously-the-only-sane-man-in-here'.
The Colonel looked up. "We should hurry up, then. Quiet poking the plastic bag, Captain, it's time to leave." Face stared at him in disbelief.
"Awwww- but Hannibal! We finally had nice beds and a shower! Hot water, Hannibal!" - "Five minutes, Lieutenant." And with this, Face jumped
and ran off to collect his stuff in a hurry while the rest left for the van, carefully observing Murdock as he staggered down the stairs, nearly tripped
out of the door if not for B.A.'s reflexes who had grabbed him by the sleeve just in time.
Somehow, in the end, they all managed to get into the car and fled from the approaching sirens, leaving nothing but a thankful family and frustrated policemen.
"Face! Look, Face! The big guy's got me a new Emily! She's reborn! It's a miracle!", the pilot squealed overjoyed and happily waved around
the new cup that had been wrapped in the plastic bag.
"I see it, buddy. She's a beauty.", Face grinned.
"Be careful with that cup in my van, crazy fool!", B.A. warned loudly, warily observing the spontaneous festival mood in the back in the rear-view mirror.
"Awwww, B.A. ... You just don't want her to break and Murdock all depressed again...", Face grinned smugly. The other man snorted.
"Oh no, not you, too! There is no 'her'! This is a goddamn cup and nothin' else!" If Face hadn't known any better, he would have easily missed
the soft smile in between those angry objections.
Murdock leaned against his shoulder and grinned. "Oh, no worries, we know you love us, big guy. No reason to be ashamed."
Probably much to B.A.'s chagrin all three men were now smugly grinning as a wave of comfortable silence passed through the car.
All three men blinked in unison as it dawned upon them. "He's asleep.", Face confirmed after a while and they breathed a sigh of relief.
Hannibal glanced cautiously to the back. "No wrong moves, kid. Waking him up now is pretty close to a mortal sin, I reckon." Face froze.
"Uh, yes. I sure hope breathing is still okay, though." - "Go ahead. Your responsibility.", the older man grinned, leaned back into the seat
and lit one of his cigars. "Don't we love it when a plan comes together?"
Face smiled as he listened to his friend's even breathing who abused his shoulder as pillow. The van rattled across the bumpy road, leaving a slim cloud
of dust behind. Hannibal had decided to give up on searching for his newspaper and studied the map instead. B.A. hummed silently some kind of tune.
Face closed his eyes. It was silent. But a good kind of silence.
The next day, Murdock woke up in the late afternoon with a big black edding mustache on his upper lip.
Two weeks later the director returned to his house and found a mass of soap totems and cookies in his bathroom.
Needlessly to say, he was somewhat crept out.