See the other posts for headers, disclaimers, etc. I'm too lazy to copy those over to this one. ;P
Leaves littered the ground and crunched under the tires of Briana's convertible as she slowly drove up the long driveway to the safe house. She pulled to a stop by the front door and shut off the engine, pausing in the car to adjust the sling cradling her right arm, under her coat. Briana glanced down at the cast on her right arm and her eyes scanned the writing on it. She smiled at the smiley face Murdock had drawn under his name. She drew comfort from the words and signatures on the cast; it was good to have friends. Taking a sip of her coffee before steeling herself to face the team, Briana transferred her travel mug to her right hand and exited the car. She walked around the car to the passenger side and grabbed her briefcase, draping the strap over her left shoulder, not wanting to take any chances with her right arm as it was still healing in the cast.
Murdock paused mid-stride when he spotted Briana at the front door. He resisted the urge to leap over the couch to pull her into a bear hug. Murdock tried to give Briana time to get settled in before saying “hi” but he was unable to wait any longer. When she walked into the family room, he ran up to her pulling her into a big hug.
Briana grimaced against the bone-crushing hug, "Easy Murdock, I'm still sore," she said.
Murdock immediately let go of Briana and shot her a worried look, "Ah'm sorry," he said, pulling away.
"That's ok," she said trying to ease his concern. "I've missed you too," she quietly added.
Reaching for her bag, Murdock said, "Here, let me help you with that." He took the bag off Briana's shoulder and helped her to take her coat off, then he and followed her to the study. A "welcome back" sign hung on the wall behind the desk and Briana smiled at the sign. Murdock walked around the desk and placed her bag on the desk and draped her jacket across the back of her chair. Briana spotted the large gift box on the desk and placed her mug next to it. "What's this?" She asked.
Smiling Murdock replied, "A little somethin' from me to you."
"Thank you," she murmured. Briana quickly scanned the package and found that she could remove the top without tearing the brightly colored paper or ribbon off. She reached for the lid trying her best to remove it with one hand.
Murdock watched her closely and seeing her struggle, rushed over to lend a hand. "Here, let me help."
Briana peered into the large box once the top was off and found a stuffed brown teddy bear and a fuzzy white kitten with blue eyes with light brown coloring on its head, paws and tail, looking back at her. Tears welled in her eyes as she reached down to the furball. She carefully picked up the kitten with one hand and lifted it out of the box. The kitten immediately went limp in her hand and Briana shot Murdock a worried look. "I think something's wrong with it."
Smiling Murdock said, "Nah, that's normal. She's a Ragdoll." He reached out to run a finger across the kitten's soft furry head. "They go limp when you pick them up. When you were in the hospital Ah remembered you once sayin' how wanted to get a cat an' so Ah thought Ah'd get one for you. Ah researched the different breeds lookin' for one that would be good for you. She's housebroken an' everthin'."
Briana transferred the kitten to her right arm, placing the little furball on her cast, cradled by the sling. "Thank you," she murmured, wrapping her left arm around him, giving Murdock a hug.
He wrapped his arms around Briana and gently returned her hug. "You're welcome, Bree," he said, holding her close.
As she breathed in the scent of the leather jacket, her memories of their kiss in Denmark came flooding back. She remembered the smell of his jacket as she put it on to distract their tail, that distinct mix of worn leather and aftershave. Relaxing in his embrace as she breathed in Murdock's scent, Briana felt like she was home. "Where's everyone else?" Briana asked.
"Right here," Hannibal said, entering the study.
"We ah wanted to give you some time to get settled in before coming in to see you," Face added. Frankie and B.A. followed the others into the room, standing close to Briana and Murdock.
"Thank you." The little fuzz ball popped up above the sling to see who had come to play with her. "Did you see what Murdock gave me?"
Smiling, Face replied, "Yeah we've seen her." He reached out to give the playful kitten a scratch under her chin.
"You look tired, when did you get back?" Hannibal asked.
"Yesterday," Briana replied still in Murdock's embrace. "I had dinner with my parents and spent some time with them."
"Bree! You didn't have to come in today, you should have stayed home," Murdock said.
Briana looked up at her friend and said, "The best thing I can do is to keep busy, to take my mind off of things. Besides I'm only here for half the day. I wanted to pick up some things so I can work from home."
"Take it easy, you need to rest," Hannibal said.
"I will," she murmured.
"Good," Hannibal said. "We'll let you get to work then. Will you have lunch with us?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Come on guys," Hannibal said, as he turned to walk out of the room.
Murdock stayed with Briana as the rest of the men followed their leader out of the room. Briana led Murdock to the couch where they sat down. The kitten bounded out of the sling and began to climb up Briana's top. "What's her name?" she asked.
"Ah didn't name her."
Briana smiled and looked down at the fuzz ball, "So what am I going to call you," she said. The kitten looked up at Briana and meowed as she continued on to her quest of trying to climb her new owner. "Where are you going, monkey?" Briana asked as she reached down to place the kitten back on her lap.
"Ah have everythin' you need for her, she was stayin' at my apartment for the past couple weeks."
"Ah'll come over and help you get her settled. Oh and I talked to the guys and they said you could bring her over when you’re here."
"I noticed you didn't mention my dad," Briana teased.
Murdock watched as his friend played with her new kitten, smiling for the first time in weeks. At least it had been several weeks since he'd last seen her smile; it was the day before their trip to Denmark to be precise. Thinking about that mission, Murdock was reminded of something he wanted to ask her. "Bree?"
"Do you remember anythin' anybody said to you when you were in the coma?"
Looking up at Murdock, Briana replied, "No, why do you ask?"
"Well the nurse in Denmark said people in comas could hear when we talk to them."
"I'm sorry, I don't remember. But that could be because of the reprogramming mucking up my memories."
"But I thought you said you remembered everythin' from your time as a Black Star."
"I do but if what the nurse said is true, then it's possible whatever goes on during my reprogramming is what's causing the problem. Why, what did you say to me?"
"Nothin' really," he shrugged. "I was just talkin'."
"Why do I get the feeling you're underplaying this?"
"OK, OK, I was thinkin' about goin' out on a date. Ah don't know if you'd want to wait until later."
"Or?" she smiled, hopefully.
"Or we could do somethin' before that."
"Ah was thinkin' you might be tired and not want to go out. Ah could bring a pizza an' a movie or somethin' an' we could stay in."
Smiling she said, "That sounds so nice. I am tired but a night in with my friend sounds nice."
Murdock returned her smile, "That's great! When do you want to get together?"
"Tonight sounds good."
Murdock's smile faded and he said, "Are you sure?"
"Positive! After everything I've been through, I need help taking my mind off of it. Plus I miss my friend. You can ride home with me and then borrow my car to pick anything up that you'll need for tonight."
"OK then, it's a date! An' Ah know just the movie that will cheer you up."
Briana smiled, happy to hear she'll have something to take her mind off the nightmares that had begun to plague her a few days after waking up from the coma. "Sounds great! Now I want to get some work done before lunch. Do you have her litter box? I want to keep her in here until she's bigger. We can pick up another litter box and bag of litter on the way home." She let out a yawn and smiled apologetically.
"How'd you sleep last night?" Murdock asked. Briana quirked an eyebrow in a silent question. "You can talk to me, remember?"
"I didn't sleep so good," she confessed after a moment.
Briana merely nodded in response. "It makes no sense. The nightmares aren't from this mission, but my last one with the CIA."
"Nightmares are just the way our brains deal with stress."
"I know but why the suicide mission?"
"Have you ever talked to anyone about it before?"
"You mean a psychiatrist?" At Murdock's nod, Briana continued, "Yes."
"I know you of all people will understand why I went." She took a deep breath, needing to gather her thoughts. This was something she never talked to anyone about before. Not even her mother knew about the months after she escaped the CIA, only her father knew. "After I left the CIA and after I was reprogrammed, I started going. I went almost daily for months then I went weekly for about the first year I was out. I tried going to college after that and had switched to seeing my psychiatrist monthly at first. But I quickly found I couldn't be in that kind of setting, my anxiety went up and I went back to seeing my psychiatrist weekly. He felt it was too soon for me to try to go back to school."
"Ah didn't know you had anxiety problems."
"I don't, well normally I don't, but after being locked up in some CIA hole for a few years, enduring what they put us through, being home-schooled, then everything else. I had problems adjusting to being around big crowds at first. My psychiatrist was the one that suggested I take the job at the paper to help with my adjustment back to the real world."
"As hard as it was working seven days a week for several months in a row, it helped me get assimilated back into civilian life. And now I'm here," she said, smiling.
"Well Ah'm glad you're here. Ah'm gonna get goin' an' let you get to work."
"Thank you," she said. Briana picked up the kitten and placed the fuzz ball on her right arm, before pushing herself up from the couch. Walking to the desk, she looked around for a good place to put the kitten on the floor. Spotting the box, she placed it on the floor next to her chair and placed the kitten inside, so that the kitten wouldn't wander off to explore the house. Briana was afraid the small kitten would either wedge herself in a tight spot or wander out of the house.
Briana sank down in her chair and scanned her desk; she had work to do but didn't know where to start. Feeling a little overwhelmed, Briana took a deep cleansing breath and glanced down at the box next to her chair. She smiled as the kitten played with the stuffed animal in the box. Smiling at the goofy kitten, Briana turned her attention back to her desk and reached for the pile of papers in her in box.
Later that morning Briana stretched out on the couch in the family room in need of a nap. Hannibal had been walking to the kitchen to check on lunch when he heard Briana quietly talking in her sleep. "Get off of me," she repeatedly said.
Concerned about his friend, Hannibal sat on the couch and placed a hand on her left shoulder. Giving it a gentle shake he said, "Bree, wake up."
Without warning, Briana grabbed Hannibal's arm and opened her eyes. She blinked several times to clear her head and quickly let go of the older man's arm, offering an apology.
"Who were you talking to?" Hannibal asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"You were saying ‘get off of me’."
"I was?" Hannibal nodded. She sighed as she sat up; she wasn't planning on telling the others that she was raped. But now that Hannibal had heard her talking in her sleep, Briana felt that she had no choice but to tell him. "Get the others."
"If I'm going to tell you, I might as well tell everyone."
"Are you sure, kid?"
"No, but they're bound to find out sooner or later. I'd rather they hear it from me than from someone else."
Murdock was walking to the study carrying the kitten's water bowl when he overheard the back end of the conversation. "Ah'll be right back," he said.
Hannibal walked around the house, gathering up the troops. He briefly stopped in the kitchen to check on lunch. Not wanting it to burn, he turned the oven and burners off.
Murdock sat down onto the couch to Briana's left. "What's goin' on?" he asked.
"I'm going to tell them about my last mission with the CIA." Murdock snaked his arm around her and drew Briana to him. Briana rested her head on Murdock's shoulder and watched as the men came into the room, each either standing by the couch, or taking a seat on the large L-shaped couch. Hannibal stood across from Briana and waited until she was ready to talk.
Briana closed her eyes as she steeled herself to tell the former soldiers about her last mission with the CIA. "My last mission as a Black Star was a suicide mission. The details aren't important. Well most of the details aren't important. There is one thing that happened..." Briana opened her eyes as she lifted her head up and looked at Murdock. He took her left hand in his and looked at her as she spoke. "I... I.... I was raped," she finally said. She knew it was going to be hard enough to tell the others so she never took her eyes off Murdock as she spoke.
B.A. sat on the edge of the couch and demanded, "Who did that to you?" He balled his right hand and slammed the fist into the palm of his left hand.
"The men responsible are all dead, my rescuers saw to that," Briana said, finally turning to face her friends.
"You didn't have to tell us, Bree," Face said, sympathetically. "Why are you telling us?"
"Because I overheard her talking in her sleep," Hannibal replied.
Face thought it over and realized Briana must have said something to lead Hannibal to question her about it. "Oh, sorry," Face murmured.
"So, uh, does this mean you have a kid?" Frankie asked.
"Frankie," Murdock said, annoyed as he glared at the stray of the group.
"Sorree," Frankie said.
Squeezing Murdock's hand, Briana said, "That's all right. "No, I was tortured and in bad shape when they rescued me so even if I had been pregnant, the baby wouldn't have survived. But no one ever told me if I was or wasn't."
"You mean the doctor never told you?" Murdock asked.
"I'm sure my dad knows but I really don't want to know. Remember, my memories are intact; I don't want to know if the rape resulted in a pregnancy. Besides like I said, I was in too bad of a shape for the fetus to survive."
Murdock noticed Briana's sudden change, referring to the baby as a fetus. She was withdrawing, he noted, and decided to drop the subject.
Hannibal had been quietly listening to Briana as she explained what happened. Something Murdock said struck a chord with him, General Stockwell keeping information from his daughter. Suddenly something Briana told Hannibal months ago came back to him. "Briana," Hannibal said, gaining her attention. "You told me that the committee was considering forming a group of assassins. How do you know your dad wasn't lying to you about that?"
"Because I was there. After the initial talks of forming a black ops group of assassins, which in other words, means recreating the Black Stars, my dad stepped in and brought me along to the next meeting. I was still recovering from the torture and my dad wanted them to see the stitches and scars and learn what happened to us."
"What scars," Hannibal asked.
"My captors had carved up my face like a turkey."
"Ah've seen you without makeup an' Ah didn't see any scars," Murdock said.
"Murdock," Face said, his voice rising in admiration.
"Zip it, Face," Murdock shot back in annoyance. "Ah saw her without makeup when Ah gave her a cup of coffee the day we met."
"I had to wait for the wounds to heal before I had plastic surgery to remove the scars. Check behind my ears, you'll find scars from the surgery."
Hannibal turned to Murdock and gave him a questioning look. Murdock nodded and pulled his right arm back and brushed her hair aside to look behind her ear. Sighing he closed his eyes and leaned his head forward, resting it on hers.
"Murdock," Hannibal asked at the other man's silence.
"Yeah?" Murdock finally said.
"Why didn't you tell me this before?" Hannibal asked.
"Because I don't like talking about it."
Hannibal walked to the couch and sat down next to Briana, on her right. "Briana, you can talk to us about what happened to you," he said.
"I know - it's just hard to talk about it. I'm not used to having friends so aside from my psychiatrist; my dad is the only person I've talked to about my last mission. Frankie aside, I know you guys have been through the same things I've been through. "
"Bree," Hannibal said, softening his voice, "Don't be afraid to talk to us, we won't judge you."
"OK," she murmured.
Deciding he had heard enough, Hannibal said, "Let's eat before the food gets cold."
The men filed out, making their way to the kitchen to load their plates with food. Murdock paused long enough to tell Briana he would get a plate of food for her. She thanked him and stood from the couch, making her way to the dining room table.
She pulled a chair out on the side and moved around to stand next to the table. Reaching for the glass with her left hand, she placed it in her right hand, holding it while she grabbed the pitcher of water. "Here, let me help," Face said, upon seeing her trying to fill her glass.
"That's OK, I've done this before," she said, giving him a small smile. When she finished she held the pitcher up and asked, "Do you want some?"
"Yeah sure," he said, holding out a glass from across the table.
Briana reached across the table and easily filled Face's glass with water, then placed the pitcher back on the table. She took the glass from her right hand and took a sip before sitting back down. Just as Briana placed the glass back on the table, Murdock appeared carrying two plates of food. He placed one in front of Briana and then plunked his plate down before pulling the chair out from under the table, to her left.
"Thank you," Briana said, as Murdock placed the plate in front of her. After draping the napkin across her lap, Briana placed the fork in her right hand and took the knife with her left.
Upon seeing Briana set about cutting her steak, Murdock jumped up and said, "Ah'll do that."
"That's ok, I can do it myself."
"Bree, it's OK to let people help you," he quietly said.
Briana looked up at Murdock, struggling with what he said. As a Black Star she was used to being independent and cutting her own food, even with one arm in a cast. Looking into his puppy dog eyes Briana knew the big-hearted man just wanted to help his friend out. Closing her eyes, she placed her knife down and sat back in her chair, allowing him to do cut her food into bite sized pieces.
When he finished, Murdock sat down and began on his own plate, cutting the steak as he ate. Briana speared a piece of meat and placed it in her mouth. She savored the taste, forgetting how good Hannibal's cooking was. "Delicious," she said. Briana had become used to the bland hospital food and the food she was served during reprogramming. She was starting to forget what good food tasted like. Briana had even missed her parents' cook's food.
"Thank you," Hannibal said in between bites.
The conversation during the meal was light, no mention of their Denmark mission, the CIA or Briana's injuries. Instead they talked about their plans for the upcoming holidays as well as reminisced about past holidays. When they finished their meal, Briana placed her silverware onto her plate and prepared to stand. Reaching for the plate, Murdock said, "Ah'll take that."
"I could do it myself if I didn't have a kitten trying to climb my leg." Briana scooted her chair back to look down. "Murdock," she said reaching for the kitten, "did you close the door after you put her water dish in the office?"
"Yeah, Ah did. Ah don't know how she got out."
"That's because she's a monkey, looks like we have to keep a close eye on her when she's here." Briana placed the kitten on her lap and gave the furball lots of belly rubs.
"I hope you didn't fill up, we have dessert," Face said as he gathered his plate and silverware.
"You didn't have to do that," Briana said.
"Nonsense!" Face waved. "You deserve it," he smiled.
Briana smiled shyly at her friend; she really liked having friends. As she continued to play with the kitten on her lap, Briana wondered what kind of dessert they had. Murdock reappeared after a moment with a rather large slice of tiramisu on a dessert plate, and two forks. Briana began salivating as soon as she saw the sweet treat. She couldn't think of the last time she had tiramisu.
Placing the plate on the table, Murdock passed a fork to Briana as he sat down. She accepted the utensil with a smile and slid it through the decadent dessert. Briana placed the fork in her mouth and closed her lips around it, as she slid the fork out. She closed her eyes as she savored the taste in her mouth as she slowly chewed it; the dessert had a perfect balance of coffee and liquor. A moan escaped her lips as she swallowed, quickly reaching for another piece.
"I think we should leave her alone. I'd be worried if I were you Murdock," Face teased.
Smiling, Briana glanced at Face and said, "I haven't had tiramisu this good since I was in Italy. Where did you get it?"
"Carlo's Bakery," he replied.
"You have to give me the address," she said as she placed another piece in her mouth.
Face reached into the breast pocket of his suit for his notepad and pen. He quickly scribbled the information down and tore off the paper, handing it across the table. "Here you go," he said.
"Thank you," she said as Murdock took the proffered slip of paper for her. The kitten placed her front paws on the edge of the table and popped her head up above the table to see what was up there.
Murdock spotted the kitten and reached over to grab the kitten, "Where do you think you're goin' young lady?" he asked, placing the kitten on his lap.
"I told you she's a monkey," Briana said, smiling. "I like the sound of that. Monkey."
"Ah like it," Murdock said, as he played with the kitten one handed, allowing him to use the other hand to eat his dessert.
After they finished dessert, Briana offered to take their plate and silverware to the kitchen while Murdock loaded the kitten into her carrying case to go home. Walking into the study, Murdock found Briana loading her briefcase with paperwork. "Need help?" he asked, approaching the desk.
Looking up, Briana smiled at her friend and said, "Yes, could you help me with my coat?"
"Sure," Murdock said, quickly making his way around the desk. He lifted the jacket from the back of the chair and held it for Briana to step into it.
She threaded her left arm into the jacket then swirled around for Murdock to drape the jacket on her right shoulder. When she was facing him, Murdock bunched the jacket closed and buttoned the top three buttons. "Thank you," she said, looking up at him.
The pair stood, their eyes locked both wanting to kiss the other but neither one made a move. "Do you mind driving?" Briana finally asked.
"Ah... Ah don't mind," Murdock replied.
Reaching into her coat pocket, Briana grabbed her keys and pulled her hand out. She broke eye contact for a moment to look down at his hand and placed the keys in it. Murdock closed his hand around hers and held it. He reached up with his left hand and lifted her chin to face him. Taking a chance, Murdock leaned forward and gave her a gentle kiss.
Briana closed her eyes as she returned his tender kiss, relishing the feelings and emotions it invoked.
"Bree, here take the rest of the Tiramisu wi..." Face said walking into the room. He stopped when he looked up and saw the couple embraced in a kiss. "Oh, ah sorry," he said.
Breaking apart, Briana turned around and said, "Sorry, what did you say?"
Face gave her a dazzling smile, enjoying the fact that he walked in on his friends. "I was just saying you should take the tiramisu home, we're probably going to go out of town soon and I don't want this to go to waste."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. Think of it as a welcome back gift, from me to you."
She walked over to Face and placed a kiss on his cheek, "Thank you," she said, taking the box by the string. Briana turned and walked back to the desk, placing the box on top of it so she could grab her briefcase.
Murdock draped the briefcase strap along her shoulder and handed her the box. She smiled at him and turned to walk out of the room. Murdock was close behind, saying his goodbyes to Face as he walked past.
"Have fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Face said.
Murdock merely shook his head as he continued to walk out of the house, pausing to pick up the cat carrier. Once everything was loaded into the car, the couple got in. Murdock drove to Briana's apartment building, making a quick stop at the pet shop to pick up necessities for the kitten.
Arriving at Briana's apartment, Murdock unloaded the car while Briana placed the dessert in the refrigerator. When he walked in with the last load, Murdock closed and locked the door behind him. "Bree, where do you want to put the litter box?"
"Kitchen is fine."
Murdock grabbed the litter box and the bag containing the rest of the items and carried them into the kitchen. He placed the box on the floor near the entrance into the kitchen and poured some little in it. Murdock then set about giving the cat’s food and water dishes a quick rinse before placing them on the floor a couple feet away from the liter box. When he finished in the kitchen, Murdock walked out to the living room and opened the cat carrier, picking up the kitten and carrying her to the kitchen. He placed her in the litter box, to show her where it was, then walked back into the living room. "Where do you want the carrier?"
"Hall closet is fine," Briana replied from her spot on the couch.
When he finished, Murdock walked to the couch and sat down on Briana's right, draping his arm around her shoulders. Briana leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder. She sighed contentedly as they both watched the kitten explore her new home. "Murdock, there's something you should know," Briana said after a few minutes.
"I've, ah, never been on a date before. Well, not a real date, that is."
"You mean to tell me a beautiful woman like you has never been on a date before? Ah find that hard to believe."
"Well, the CIA had me under lock and key for years and then when they let us out, we were emotionless, cold hearted killers. I didn't exactly have a chance to date before."
"But what about when you were workin' at the paper?"
"I was too busy finding out who I was to date."
Briana lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at Murdock. "And now I know who I am and I'm looking forward to spending more time with you."
Murdock smiled at her; being with Bree felt right. As much as he and Kelly had cared about each other, she could never understand who Murdock was or what he'd been through. It was different with Bree though; she had been through similar things that he had. ''You know, Ah can't believe Frankie asked you if you have any kids."
"It was tacky but you can't tell me there wasn't a part of you, deep down, that wasn't wondering the same thing."
"Naw because Ah know you, an' Ah know you'd never hide somethin' like that from your friend."
"But I didn't tell you about being a Black Star."
"Yeah but a kid ain’t somethin' you keep secret like bein' in the CIA."
"Even if I gave it up for adoption?"
"Ah'd have known."
"Yeah, Ah'd have seen it in your eyes."
"And what would you have seen?"
"The same longin' Ah've seen in Face's eyes when he looks at a happy family an' he thinks no one is lookin'."
"If you don't see longing, then what do you see?"
"Ah see kindness, carin', someone that likes to have fun," he placed his left hand on her cheek and continued, "a beautiful woman that's been through a lot who has a cute kitten that's climbin' up my leg." He looked down at the kitten and said, "Hey! I ain’t a cat tree."
Briana laughed as she glanced down to see the kitten on Murdock's knee. The furball looked up and meowed in triumph of conquering the mountain that was Murdock's leg. "So tell me something, what movie are we going to watch?"
"A Christmas Story."
"Never heard of it."
"Well Ah guarantee you, you'll enjoy it."
"OK then, what about dinner?"
"Are you hungry already?"
"No, but if you're going to cook, I was thinking you might need time to prepare. Like go shopping since I don't have any perishables in the house."
"Well then, since you put it that way. Ah guess Ah'll go shoppin' then."
"And I'll stay here and keep Monkey out of trouble," she said, picking up the kitten in her left hand.
Murdock gave her a quick peck on the cheek before rising from the couch and leaving to run his errands. While he was gone, Briana sat down on the floor and pulled out the kitten's toys and began to play with her, hoping to wind the kitten down so the furball would take a nap and not get in any more mischief for a while.
When Murdock returned, he found Briana lounging on the couch reading a book with the kitten curled up in a ball, snoozing on Bree. He placed the perishables on the counter and prepared a marinade for the chicken. Once he was finished with everything, Murdock placed the chicken in the refrigerator and cleaned up the kitchen then sank down on the couch. The couple spent the rest of the afternoon talking and enjoying each other's company. After dinner Murdock shooed Briana out of the kitchen, insisting on cleaning up while she sat down at the dining room table and chatted with him.
Fighting back a yawn, Briana decided to change into her pajamas while Murdock finished up in the kitchen. When he finished, Murdock sat on the couch patiently waiting for Bree. Murdock was about to put the movie in the VCR when Briana came out and told him to come into her bedroom to watch it in there. She insisted it would be more comfortable to lounge on the bed and watch, then the couch.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive! We can curl up under the covers too, to stay warm. Plus I'm starting to feel tired so on the off chance I fall asleep, I'll already be in bed."
"An' just what am Ah supposed to do if you fall asleep?"
"You can spend the night," she smiled at him.
"In that case, Ah'll go make popcorn," he said, giving her a big grin.
While Murdock made the popcorn, Briana took the movie into her bedroom and turned on both the television and VCR, putting the tape in and setting the TV to the video setting. With remotes in hand, she turned and walked to the bed, placing them on the nightstand next to the phone. Throwing the comforter aside, she hopped onto the spacious bed and slid across the mattress, leaving room for Murdock to slide in next to her.
A few minutes later Murdock walked into the bedroom carrying a tray laden with a big bowl of popcorn, two glasses of water and a few napkins. He had hung his jacket in the hall closet while the popcorn was popping, and made sure the front door was locked. He turned the lights off in the apartment as he padded to the bedroom. In the months that they had known each other and had spent time together as friends, this was the first time he had seen her bedroom. He found a queen sized bed with an elaborately carved cherry wood four-poster headboard and footboard with a maroon comforter. There was a beautiful antique dresser along the one wall while a big armoire stood against another wall. Inside the armoire was the television and VCR.
"Very nice," he said as he placed the tray on the bed, close to Bree.
"Thank you," she murmured.
He sat on the edge of the bed and untied his high tops, pulling them off and leaving them at the foot of the bed. "If you want to change into a pair of sweatpants, I have a pair you can borrow."
"That's OK, Ah'm tryin' to cut back on cross-dressin'."
Briana smiled and said, "They were Danny's, and they'll fit you. Actually they might be a little big."
Murdock thought it over a moment as he glanced back and forth between the bed and his pants. "They're in the closet, gray pair," Briana said.
"Yeah, Ah think Ah'll do that," he nodded as he stood from the bed. He walked to the other side of the room and opened the closet door, looking around for the gray sweat pants. Finding them in a pile of folded clothes on the floor, he reached down and picked them up. Despite the offer to spend the night, Murdock didn't feel comfortable changing in front of Bree. He carried the pants to the hall bathroom and quickly changed. Walking back into the room, he placed his folded slacks over the footboard of the bed, before sliding under the covers.
Briana pointed out the remote controls next to him and he quickly picked the one up for the VCR and pushed ‘play’, before he fluffed the pillow behind his back. He reached for the glass and napkins and placed them on the nightstand next to him, then picked up the bowl and placed the tray on the floor, out of the way so as not to trip over it later. Briana had placed her glass on the nightstand to her left earlier and began to nibble on the popcorn. Briana snuggled close as they watched the movie, sharing the snack Murdock made for them.
The phone rang early the next morning waking Briana. She groaned and blindly groped for phone only to be met by Murdock's sleeping form. Pushing herself up, she rested her right arm on his chest to get a better reach for the phone. "Yeah," she wearily croaked, once she put the phone to her ear. She listened a moment before saying, "Hold on." Briana put the receiver down on the bed, muffling the sounds as she nudged Murdock with her left hand, telling him to he had a phone call. "It's Hannibal." Too tired to crawl back to her side of the bed, Briana simply rested her head on Murdock's chest, drawing comfort from his presence.
Murdock groaned as he reached for the phone, refusing to look at his watch to find out what time it was. "Yeah," he groggily said. After a moment of silence he spoke again, "Ah'll meet you at the house."
"Just meet them at the plane, it'll be faster," Briana said.
"Never mind, Ah'll meet you at the plane," he said, saying his goodbyes. Instead of hanging up the phone, Murdock gave it to Briana, saying her father wanted to talk to her.
"Yeah?" she said.
"Rough night?" Hunt asked.
"I don't want to talk about it now, too tired," she mumbled.
"Well then why don't we talk about it later, say over lunch?"
"OK, bring my car; I'm letting Murdock borrow it."
Murdock cracked an eye open and looked down at her, he wanted to protest her generosity but was too tired. "See you then, bye." Briana attempted to hang up the phone but couldn't muster the strength to reach for the nightstand.
Murdock took the phone out of her hand and hung it up for her. He snaked his arms around her and forced his eyes to open, fighting the urge to just stay in bed and fall back asleep. "Bree, Ah don't want to take your car, you need it."
"Don't be ridiculous. I don't have to be anywhere today; my dad will pick me up for lunch. Besides, it'll be faster for you to drive my car, you can go home and pack your bag and then meet the team at the plane."
Having heard voices, Monkey jumped onto the bed and began to climb over the bumps and hills in the comforter until she reached the mountain. She climbed onto Murdock's chest and began to walk back and forth, snuggling up to him and purring. "You'd better go before you fall back asleep," Briana said.
Murdock took a deep breath as he finally managed to pry his eyelids open. He looked down at the kitten and smiled, giving her a quick scratch behind her ear. "Bree, you're gonna have to move so Ah can get up," he said.
"Uh huh," came the response.
Murdock could tell Briana was on the verge of falling back asleep. Not wanting to disturb her, he placed the kitten on the bed and carefully moved Briana back to her pillow. Once she was settled in he picked up the kitten and said, "Ah'll feed the furball." Murdock had taken their bowl, glasses and tray to the kitchen last night before he went to sleep.
Slipping out of bed, Murdock gathered the kitten and made his way out of the room. Once he was in the kitchen, he placed her on the floor and began to fill her dishes with food and water. Monkey chattered away as he worked, and snuggled up to his legs, rubbing herself along them. As soon as she saw the food, the kitten stopped her affections and began to fill her empty stomach.
Murdock padded to the bathroom and took care of things, including running a brush through his unruly hair and rinsing his mouth out with mouthwash. When finished, he went back to the bathroom and changed into his pants. He carefully sat on the bed as he tied his shoes. When he was all finished, Murdock leaned over the bed and placed a kiss on Briana's forehead, whispering goodbye.
"Lock the keys in the car, my dad has a spare set," she said.
"Ah didn't mean to wake you," Murdock said, sitting on the bed.
"Oh well, Ah'll call you when we get back," he said, standing from the bed.
"Murdock," Briana said, catching his attention.
"Ah will," he smiled. Murdock walked through the apartment with a spring in his step. Somehow comforting Briana last night when she woke from nightmares felt good to him. He had been there himself and knew exactly what she was going through. Yes, he told himself, this definitely felt right. He slid his arms into his jacket sleeves and grabbed the keys off the kitchen counter. Walking back to the door, Murdock locked it behind him before walking down the hall and out of the building.