APR 26
One to Ten
Holiday: Richter Scale Day

"So, Murdock, on a scale of one to ten, how are you feeling today?"

Murdock sighed. He hated this scale thing, but it seemed to be standard fare for shrinks. He thought carefully before answering. He was supposed to be honest, and with Richter, it wasn't too hard. If he ignored certain aspects of his life, anyway.

But Richter was a shrink, after all. Give the wrong answer, however honestly, and it could poke the guy's antennae up. Which could be a bad thing. He might decide a change in medication was needed, or maybe a new therapy group. Or worse yet - 'homework'. Yeah, that could be bad.

Then again, it could be a good thing. He wasn't feeling quite up to snuff. He knew it wasn't the meds. But the therapy groups he was in just weren't...exciting. The same people, the same issues, day after day, week after week. And he wasn't allowed to be as expressive as he liked in them, either. A couple of the therapists got pretty short-tempered about things like that. Everything had to be...standard. So maybe he could get into something new. Where he could be a little more...creative.

"Murdock?"

Murdock glanced up at Richter. A lot depended on the doc's mood, too. Usually he was pretty mellow, but sometimes he acted like he really expected Murdock to work at this. And most times, Murdock didn't really feel like it. It wasn't that he liked being crazy. Nobody liked it. But there was some security in it, too. The meds would take him so far, and that was okay. That kept things on an even keel. Kept him from going the places he'd been that had gotten him thrown in here in the first place. But he wasn't ready for total reality.

Institutionalized. He'd had a shrink tell him that's what he'd become. He'd given that shrink a hard time, back then. Of course he was institutionalized! He was living in a hospital, for crying out loud. Then the shrink had said it was also in his head. He wanted to stay "unstable" so he wouldn't have to live on the outside. That he preferred the "safe confines" of the hospital.

If only that shrink had known...

"Murdock, one to ten?"

Murdock sighed again. He had to give Richter an answer, soon. Not answering was sometimes worse than the wrong answer. But he didn't know where he was on that damn scale today. Yesterday, when he'd come back from being with the guys, he would've said ten. It was always ten right after. It was the day after that things got real again, and he slipped down. Today?

Five, maybe. Or closer to three. That'd make him a four, right? Yeah. Four. Not the end of the scale Richter would like. He didn't want to get Richter going. Not that direction. But not the other way, either. Didn't want to exaggerate, make him think things were going too well.

So maybe that other shrink was right. Yeah. When he was bored out of his mind most of the time? When he thought about what the guys were doing, what he could be doing, if he were let out of here? He didn't want to live in the VA the rest of his life. He didn't want to live here at all. He wanted to be out with the Team, chasing the bad guys, eluding the MPs, teasing BA.

But then again, they weren't chasing bad guys all the time. That's when Murdock stayed here, BA went to his day care job, Hannibal worked the Hollywood circuit, Face got into another scam...What would Murdock do, if he weren't in here?

He couldn't fly. Not legally. Eventually, maybe. If he kept his nose clean. Hard to do if he were working with the guys, though. And the thought of taking some menial little job - all he was really qualified for other than flying - and going home to a dismal little apartment, day after day after day...just waiting for the colonel to call...

Then again, would Hannibal even let him stay on the team, if he weren't certifiable? He kept saying Murdock was safe as long as he was insane. Couldn't be held responsible. Couldn't go to jail. That would change if he were out. The colonel felt bad enough about the other two. Would he force Murdock off the Team just so he wouldn't have another one on his conscience?

"Murdock..."

"Sorry, Doc. Kinda phased out there. One to ten? Well, I'm a little down, but okay. Let's say...eight. That's a nice round number, don't you think, Doc? But I was thinking maybe a change in groups might be in order..."

FINI