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Playing Doctor

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Face sneezed. "Remind me again why I spent two hours freezing my ass off?"

B.A. rolled his eyes, while Hannibal frowned.

"No, no, no," said Murdock, approaching with - yup, both hands visible, no sharp objects in sight. Face didn't think even Murdock would be mad enough to try to give him stitches for the flu, but then, he'd rather be paranoid now than sorry later. "Not your ass, Face. That's, like, your best feature."

"No, it's not," Face said.

"We went over the plan," said Hannibal. "We all agreed on the plan. We all understood the plan."

"This warrants a thorough medical examination, this does."

"OK," Face said. "So what you're saying, it's my fault, and I should just suck it up. I - " He flinched.

"Cold hands? Sorry," said Murdock. "All done, though. Good boy. Would you like a lollipop for being a good boy?"

B.A. stared. "Damn, fool. There's other people right here, you know."

Murdock turned. "What's the matter, Bosco? What, you think we don't know 'bout those magazines you keep in your bunk? Good news, by the way, it's still there."

"My ass is not my best feature, okay?"

"If I could have your attention for a few moments," Hannibal said.



"I ain't saying sorry for these two clowns clowning around," said B.A.

"Nor would I expect you to," Hannibal said. "I only wanted to say this: next time, stick to the plan. It was a good plan."

"As are all of your plans, sir," Murdock said. "Brilliant plan. Gorgeous. Like if Face's ass was a plan, that's the sort of plan it would look like."

"Will you stop talking about my ass already?"

"Can't believe I'm saying this, but seconded," B.A. said. "Bad enough I've got to put up with the two of you getting all lovey-dovey all the time."

"Now that was uncalled for, that was. Do we complain when you're making googly eyes at some vehicle of dubious virtue? Do we?"

Hannibal headed for the exit. "Gentlemen, good night. B.A., a word?"

"Yes, sir."

Face closed his eyes, then opened them again when he heard Murdock rummaging around. "Do we really get all lovey-dovey around each other? I hadn't noticed."

Murdock had his back to him. He shrugged. "We're not that bad, I don't think. Simple animal magnetism at work. I mean, that's some - "

"It's my face, okay?" Face said. "My face is my best feature. That's why people call me 'Face'. Because I've got a great face. A perfect face. And also a charming personality."

"So you're saying, when you call someone an 'ass', you're actually paying them a compliment? Like, you're saying 'hey there, I really like your - '?"

"No." Face's head hurt. He realized he probably shuld have dropped the matter about oh, two hours ago? Or ignored it from the start. Few good things ever came from arguing with Murdock, who was a little crazy, yes, but also a lot stubborn, like a dog with a bone. Once he'd gotten a hold of something, he wouldn't let go, whether it was a joystick or the remote control for the TV.

Which only showed, like, three channels, none of them in English or at all interesting, so if Murdock insisted one of the three produced higher quality contents than the other two, who was Face to argue?

"Well, that's just confusing," Murdock said. "I'm confused."

Face wondered if 'confused' was better or worse than 'mad'. "Why won't you come over here, see if I can make you feel better, huh?"

Murdock turned around. "Now I'm even more confused. Confuseder? You see, you're the one who's sick around here, Face. So as your perfect and better-than-you-deserve boyfriend, shouldn't it be the other way around when it comes to people making other people feel better? Here, drink this."

Face stared at the - definitely better not to think of it as a 'urine cup'. "What's that?"

"It's medicine," Murdock said. "Trust me, I'm a doctor."

Face held out his hand. "No, you're not. But you know what, I trust you anyway. How's that?"

"I'm simultaneously hurt and touched. Say 'aah'."

Face sighed. "Look, it's just the flu. There's nothing wrong with my hands. I can drink by myself. I don't need you to hold it up to my lips or something."

"Now, Face, don't be like that," Murdock said. "You're sick. I'm a doctor. I'm trying to help. So why not be a good patient and take your shot like you're supposed to."

"Shot?" Face struggled to get up. "What shot?"

Murdock held up the cup. "One shot of whiskey. Let it settle for a bit, sleep on it, and you're going to be right as rain come morning. Old family recipe. Never fails."

"You got your hands on a bottle of whiskey?" Face felt impressed. And, okay, also a tiny bit suspicious. "How'd you pull that off? More importantly, when were you going to share with the rest of us?"

Murdock shrugged. "Man's got to have a few secrets. Keeps the mystique alive."

"It's not anti-freeze again, is it?" Face asked.

Murdock grinned. "That's be a TAFO. Or a Taste And Find Out, in case you're not as up to date on your acronyms as the rest of the class. C'mon, Face, what's the matter? Chicken?"

"I prefer the term 'attached to maintaining full control over my limbs'."

"Fine. Be like that, then. Your loss, my gain." Murdock tipped back his head and drank.

Face told himself that he'd done the smart thing. The safe thing. He felt more like he'd felt when he'd realized that saving a dog had not been part of the plan, and might, in fact, amount to screwing up the plan beyond all recognition.

Some days were like that, though. You simply couldn't win or get a break.

Of course, some days were like this.

"Wow," said Face. "Unless that last barbecue also nuked my taste buds, that definitely wasn't anti-freeze."

Murdock looked smug. "Told you, didn't I? Prime Irish whiskey, baby. Worth every bit of trouble I had to go through to get it."

"So who's going to show up tomorrow morning wanting to kill you?"

"Now that'd be telling, wouldn't it?" Murdock smirked. "Don't you worry your pretty face about it. The situation is wholly and entirely under control."

"You know it worries me when you say things like that."

"How about when I do things like this?"

"Um. What was that thing that I was supposed to be worried about again?"