MAY 18
It's All Relative
Holiday: Visit Your Relatives Day

"It's been a long time, Murdock. Your letters seemed to indicate things were going fairly smoothly for you, all things considered."

"Well, yeah, they were. They are. But...well, some things happened, and Hannibal thought I should talk to you. I won't take much of your time, I promise. I gotta go to work in a couple hours. I got a new job, a waiter at this really neat Italian restaurant. I..."

"Murdock, I'd love to hear about the new job, but I don't think that's what Colonel Smith had in mind."

"He called you already, didn't he?"

"Yes, he did. Told me about the last couple of, uh, assignments, you were on."

"So I got a little carried away..."

"But that isn't really the problem, is it, Murdock? This sort of thing has been going on for a long, long time. First with BA, now with Face."

"What do you mean?"

"How long have you known Colonel Smith, Murdock? When did you first meet him?"

"I've been with the colonel since Nam - you know that!"

"In relation to the others?"

"BA joined him a little while after I started flying his teams. And Face came after that."

"So you've been with him longer than anyone, right?"

"Well, yeah. But what's that got to do with anything?"

"BA's an excellent mechanic, or so I've heard. Smith got to rely on him a lot, didn't he, to keep the equipment in good repair? Including the helicopters?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Even though you knew every inch of them, he called on BA to fix them, check them over. BA more or less took over for you in that regard, didn't he?"

"I don't get what you're after, Doc."

"Smith was used to talking to you about the patrols, where to go in, pickups...actually talked strategy with you."

"Yeah. I had to know what was going on, so I'd know when to be where. I really don't know what..."

"And then Face came along. Suddenly the colonel had an XO who thought like he did, who wasn't just a yes man, who knew the ground war. They came to rely on each other a great deal. Still do, correct?"

"Doc, I..."

"How do you think Hannibal felt about you being in the VA, Murdock?"

"What? Doc, where are you comin from with all this?"

"It gave you a special place, didn't it? A special relationship with him. And every time BA got after you about your behavior, every time you were able to goad him, it got the colonel's attention, didn't it? So he'd have to stick up for you. Take your side."

"Doc..."

"Eventually, you knew were still solid with Hannibal. That he would always take your side against BA. But there was still the lieutenant. You couldn't quite get in between them, could you?"

"Doc, I think this conversation is..."

"No, Murdock. We need to look at this. It's what Hannibal wants."

Silence.

"What to do about Face? He wasn't as easy to irritate as BA. Too easy going. And smart. He saw through so many things. But he never expected you to actually sabotage his scams. Because you were smart, too. Never did anything blatant. Little things. But big enough to cause...problems. Again, nothing major. Nothing that could've put the colonel in danger. But enough to make Face look bad."

"Doc, I would never..."

"It was working, though, wasn't it? Until I released you from the VA. Now your 'special place' with Hannibal was gone. You were just the pilot. Worse yet, the pilot living on the outside, while the rest of the team were all together. It was time to up the ante, wasn't it? Start making little remarks to Hannibal, to BA, maybe even the general. Start making Hannibal wonder about Face. And Face actually helped, didn't he? Making it clear how unhappy he was, trying to leave the team...and it all came together on these last two jobs, didn't it?"

"Listen, I know I went overboard. I know that, okay?"

"Murdock, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. I'm trying to get you to see what's been happening. What's been happening all along, but now it's getting out of hand. Murdock, have you ever heard of sibling rivalry?"

"Yeah, I've heard of it, Doc, but that's not us! We're not even a family!"

"Aren't you? Stop and think about that, Murdock. Think about what I've said. Will you do that, and then call me back? In a couple of days, after you've had time to think it through honestly."

"Okay." A heavy sigh. "Okay, I...I will. Honestly."

"Good. Because you need to work this out, before it's too late."

FINI