Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon

by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)



A response to one of the Missing Scene Challenges over at the A-Slash. From the episode Family Reunion.

Title lifted from Harry Chapin, lyrics to Cat’s in the Cradle

“The purpose of healing is to be strong in the broken places.”

-Geneen Roth

Weirdly off-balance. That’s what it was. He felt the way he did when he had a fever. His skin felt too hot, too tight, and he felt like he had to step very, very carefully in order to walk without falling down.

He wasn’t good at lying. Obviously.

Wasn’t good at doing it, and wasn’t good at getting caught, and wasn’t good at getting over it.

Face could do it. Face had this way of just, well, not precisely freezing, but kind of putting things on an easy pause for a moment while he collected himself after being caught in a lie. It wasn’t a hesitation exactly, but a smooth moment where you looked at him and your only thought was that maybe you were wrong, after all, because how could someone with this face be lying?

That was the exact same moment he took to reconnoiter, and once you knew him, knew him real, real well, you could watch it happening. Almost see all of the parts and pieces rearranging themselves and falling into a new order, something Face could work with. His eyes would flicker, go from blue to steel gray, then back without even a blink. Then his smooth voice would go ahead, and if he was caught, then he’d meant to be, and weren’t you the smart one to have tripped him up? Right this way, listen to my patter, but don’t watch my hands.

That had to do with the teasing. He was good at it, but not gentle enough. Smacked of lying, sometimes, instead of simple banter. Like letting Murdock know that he saw something in Ellen, some connection. Like Murdock talking about the girl from his building. Kind of a high sort of amusement, that they could find others, but were wrapped up in each other, and wanted for nothing more. They’d hid from the guys for so long (still kept things to themselves, sometimes. Things that were easy for the two of them to understand, but hard to explain). Fronts and feints and sometimes they kept it up just by habit. Both had been surprised and weirded out by finding love in each other. Took some getting used to, separating love and lifestyle and the team. Teasing. Sure.

But Face sometimes took that step, too good at his job (ever the conman). Pushed till it wasn’t funny anymore. Though it had given Murdock an opportunity to tell. If they’d not been interrupted, he’d have told. Had been ready to tell. Would that have been the right thing to do?

Murdock leaned uncomfortably against the van, stared down at his feet planted in the dirt, hands jammed in his pockets. Hated feeling like this. He’d be okay (things were okay between them, they were, they were . . . okay), for a while, then that feeling, awful, would flood over him and he’d feel almost ill. Feel that between one step and the next he was going to stumble, couldn’t escape it enough to even keep walking.

It happened again, just standing here, and he cringed from it, inwardly, felt the heat rising in his face and his heart hurting again. Hated it. Hated lying, the lying itself worse than the getting caught. But still. . . not worse than hurting Face.

Nothing was worse than that.

Face walked up to him slowly. He was showing his age, here, and Murdock wanted to smooth away the lines, smooth away the age-old hurt there that could never be erased. His steps were heavy, like his feet were weighed down, and his hands were jammed in his pockets, too, ruining the line of his always-carefully cut jacket. His eyes studied the ground in front of him as he walked. It wasn’t until he was almost to the van that he raised them from the dirt.

They were dry. Hard, chiseled, almost, though Murdock could see the cracks. Face was holding himself together by a string, and not a very strong one at that. He met Murdock’s eyes and a small movement went through him. He pulled his hands out of his pockets and tugged his jacket into its flawlessly straight lines. Ran his hands through his hair, straightening it carefully. Such a tender movement, so unconscious on Face’s part. It tugged at Murdock’s heart every time. Face straightening his hair, his jacket, himself. Put on the proper façade, the don’t ask, don’t tell front that hid everything, gave the world the pretty boy they so wanted to see. Made it easy on everybody but himself.

Murdock felt that rush run over him again (what was it? Failure? Sorrow? Heartache? He couldn’t tell). Face, fixing himself, putting on that mask, for him. It was just them, it should have been okay. Dammit, it might have been okay, if only Murdock had told. If only he had told. Secrets, lies, they surrounded Face’s life like a plague and he didn’t want to be a part of that, had never wanted to be a part of any of that. He was supposed to be the one true thing in Face’s life (never lie, always trust), odd as it was. He was helping Face along those lines, helping him to realize that, and now he’d taken all that away.

The heat of almost-anger ran through him again and he felt himself shudder as he pushed off the van and stood in front of Face, shoulders still hunched, as though expecting to be hit (again). Wanting to be hit, almost. If only that could happen. Let Face hit him, hurt him, he deserved it, and knew Face could never hurt him as much with his fists as he’d hurt Face with the not-telling.

Face stood tall, poised, together, in front of Murdock. “Let’s get out of here, okay?” He smiled his not-smile.

Murdock ducked his head, then gestured with his chin at the receding figure of Face’s sister. “Ellen not coming with us?”

Smallest of hesitations, then Face responded, “No. She needs some, ah, time. She had a lot of surprises herself.”

Not as good at this as Face, Murdock’s flinch was visible, at both Face’s words and the minute wobbling in his tone (not something anyone but Murdock would have noticed). Face noticed the flinch, and his slate eyes melted a bit. “Come on, Murdock. Let’s just go home. I . . . need to go home.”

Murdock nodded several times quickly, got in and started the van. Face stood looking at the grave for a moment more, then made his way to the passenger side. He stood, hand on the handle, seemed to be holding himself up. Closed his eyes for a second. Murdock’s worry flowed thick, for Face never showed such weakness. He tore his eyes away as Face let himself in the van and settled himself neatly. Murdock pulled away slowly, heading towards the little house he was renting. No way he was taking him back to Stockwell’s, not after all this.

Face sighed and rolled his shoulders. Safe in the van, safe with Murdock (he must still feel safe with him, that was good, a good sign), he lay his head back against the seat, closed his eyes again. Breathed carefully. Murdock was dividing attention between Face and the road, and Face must have felt his eyes on him, because he reached over, still with his eyes closed, and laid his hand on Murdock’s leg. Squeezed it. Saying I’m all right, we’re okay. Murdock laid his own hand over Face’s for a moment, held it tight, then released him and focused on the road, focused on getting them home.

Got home (BA had told him to keep the van till tomorrow). Face giving him that smile-but-not-a-smile again as he got out. Headed carefully towards the door. Smooth, so smooth. To anyone else. To Murdock, it looked like he was either gonna fall down or break apart, take your pick. That feeling that he’d been a part of this (supposed to help each other, not hurt each other) flooded him again (would it ever stop?). Felt like he didn’t even deserve to be in Face’s sphere. He wasn’t anywhere near good enough for this, so why even try?

But maybe that was part of the payment for fucking up, this living up to it, this facing of it, this being here for when Face fell (and he hoped he’d fall, he really did, for anything would be better than this strung-out, strung-up amalgam of pieces Face had picked up along the way).

So he followed Face to the door.

Face was just standing there, face a blank canvas, waiting for Murdock with the keys. He turned when Murdock walked up behind him, and in turning almost fell. Too surprised to even catch himself, but Murdock was ready (this time, he was ready). Didn’t let him fall.

“Murdock?” He didn’t sound like Face.

“Lemme get you inside.” He didn’t sound like himself, either. They both sounded broken. “We’re home, Face, let’s just . . . we’re home.”

Opened the door and got them in and locked it behind them and stood there with Face, holding onto him, felt the blood flowing beneath Face’s skin.

Inside, away, alone with Murdock, Face looked crumpled. Undone. Undone but closed off and Murdock hated himself again. Hated that he was here. He’d tried to do the right thing, did what Face had said to do. Trust his gut. Right.

“Face. . .” His voice still had that wistful quality, the one that said he wished, he wished, wished so damn bad. . .

Face stood there a moment longer, looking at Murdock. Unsteady and hurt but still not ready to give. Gently disengaged himself from his support.

“Face. I . . .” He didn’t have anything to follow that up with. How do you say you’re sorry for taking away someone’s one chance at discovering who they are? Right or wrong, fault or no, he’d been involved in that.

Face stood waiting patiently, as Murdock looked at him helplessly. Finally Face shook his head. “No stumbling, remember?” He met Murdock’s eyes, but there was nothing there. Nothing in those eyes. He’d shut down in that way he had, shut down all non-essential functions. He made a move towards the bedroom. “I’m going to lie down, I think.” Lifted a hand to straighten his hair, that unconscious (tender) movement. Stopped when he saw his hand perceptively shaking. A smile crossed his face (not a real smile), and he shook his head at his own weakness. Turned those eyes to Murdock, the smile wobbly.

Murdock experienced that wave again (the illness, the melting), and reached out to touch Face just as he turned away. Headed towards the bedroom, shedding his jacket as he went. Moving slow. None of the usual easy glide he had, even when he wasn’t trying, when he wasn’t deliberately turning on the charm. Murdock wanted to follow him, but restrained himself. Hated holding back, but it was always a risk to push Face.

He’d seen it eating away at Face. . . the not knowing. Seen how it made him doubt himself to an astounding degree. How else was it possible that someone as talented, as smart, as meltingly beautiful as he was could be forced (force himself) to prove it, again and again, and never believe in the results?

Couldn’t do this. Couldn’t stay away from Face. Felt like he was killing himself by doing it and maybe it was selfish, but dammit, he couldn’t do this. Selfish, but Face was alone when he shouldn’t be alone even if he *wanted* to be alone. Face didn’t often know what was best for himself. Knew how to hurt himself best, oh yes. Learned it well, his whole life. But fixing things . . . not so much.

Murdock was shivering. Knew it wasn’t cold. Looked around, helpless for a second, at the little comfortable place they’d created. It was mostly him, but it was Face too. Face was part of him, and part of this place. Very bachelor, yes: mismatched furniture (that drove Face crazy, but Murdock kind of liked it, thought it gave the place character). A dining room table off to one side in the big living room, with four different chairs around it (Face would literally cringe and avoid looking at that; would periodically threaten to take Murdock furniture shopping. At which point Murdock would cringe). Books, everywhere. They’d start out nicely organized on shelves, then Murdock would go into one of his frequent reading frenzies and they’d end up strewn about. Mystery books, flight manuals, history books, philosophy books, lots and lots of psychology books. Books about past lives and different religions and classics and all of Salinger and a lot of Vonnegut and his current Steinbeck obsession and picture books and kids books and art books and more. Always more.

Face didn’t always get that. He read, sure, when he had the time, but Murdock was always reading something. Not Face. Murdock suspected it had to do with what a bitch all of these books were to move. Murdock had only ever been at the VA, for so many years, then here in Virginia. No one chasing him, not really. Didn’t have to be able to move quickly. Face could never accumulate books (or anything, actually) because sooner or later, he’d end up leaving it behind, for sure.

Framed prints and actual paintings fought for wall space with posters from various movies (an Aquamaniac one that he’d catch Hannibal standing in front of and grinning at every time he came over. A great one from King of Hearts. A classic Superman one, from the comic book series). And pictures. Tons of pictures. He’d become archivist of sorts for the Team, the one who had the time and the space and the patience and the trust to keep all of the really important things safe, the things the Team couldn’t trust even themselves to preserve. The ability to recognize that which must be kept safe and precious, and the psychotic tendency needed to even attempt it. Perhaps being a madman gave him that special state of mind, the one that made him a great archivist.

Safe and precious. Face. It came back to him. Always came back to him. Murdock listened. Still silence from the occupied bedroom. He wanted to go in, and he didn’t. Wanted to crawl up into bed beside Face and hold him and be held by him and magically, everything would be fixed. Rock away all the problems. He shivered again as he felt Face’s hands on him, pushing him, pushing him down, down hard, and the feeling of hitting the ground.

He walked slowly around the couch, to look at some of the photos crowding the wall and the shelves. Lots of the team. Even more of him and Face, alone together. There were quite a few black and whites. His footsteps took him over to his favorites. One of Face and him together, and he’d never been sure if Face had known Hannibal was taking the picture, and Face would never tell. Black and white, and on the balcony of one of Face’s scammed houses, but close, so all you could see was the two of them and the clear sky behind them. They were looking at each other, Murdock laughing out loud and Face grinning hugely, hair windswept, and he seemed wrapped up in the closeness of Murdock.

Then there was the one of Face serious, so serious. Murdock remembered taking this. Had been playing with a new camera Face had given him for Christmas, their first Christmas as more-than-friends. He’d called Face’s name, and Face looked over from where he’d been sitting. Sitting in quiet wonder of a Christmas not-alone. Looked over and didn’t pose, didn’t threaten, didn’t duck or hide or smile or slip on any mask at all. Just looked at Murdock all unguarded and Murdock had snapped the picture through reflex and caught a piece of Face’s too-open soul. He traced that serious profile with a gentle finger, now.

He turned, almost ready to venture into the bedroom (the tightness inside was somewhat less, now. Hurt still, but less sharp and maybe he could do it now. Could face it now). One last photo caught his eye, and he grinned at this one, unable not to. He knew Face had depths, knew it well and loved him for it, but he also loved the sharp-eyed, quick-tongued, snappy-dressing conman. Face was goddamn beautiful and sometimes even he knew it. This picture captured that.

It was black and white, of the two of them and you couldn’t see the joke by looking at it, not unless you knew. Murdock had set up the camera to take the picture automatically. They were sitting close on the couch, Murdock with his foot cocked up on the coffee table, and his face was open and honest and seriously fucking happy as he gazed sideways at Face, profile to the camera, arm slung around his shoulders. Face, as photogenic as ever, perfect, gorgeous, honey-blonde hair falling forward, eyes sparkling, alive and mischievous, shirt unbuttoned just so. So damn sexy it took your breath away. He sat looking forward, oblivious to Murdock’s eyes on him, satisfied smile on his face. Just sat and gazed real easy, and you’d think he was looking at the camera, posing, you really would. Unless you knew that on the wall behind where the camera was set up was a big ol’ mirror and what Face was looking at was himself, so young and perfect and bold. His own damn reflection in the mirror. And yeah, it was a perfect reflection, you could see that from the image caught in the picture itself. So why shouldn’t Face be smiling, flawless and happy and oh, so cocky at his own beauty?

Made Murdock grin, this secret little joke, Face’s venture into narcissism and it was okay, it really was. Hadn’t Face gone through so much to get here? What was the big deal, allowing him a moment to realize, hey, there, look at me and aren’t I something? And the camera catching Murdock, too, gazing on in full agreement: yeah, you surely are. One damn fine piece of work and don’t you dare forget it, oh conman of mine.

Face blushed whenever he looked at this photo, this moment of open conceit. Murdock loved watching the warmth spread up his cheeks, and would smile with amusement each time.

Loved that. Loved having had that moment with Face, and loved being able to share the memory of that moment time and again.

Hoped he’d still be able to share, after all this. After being pushed away, pushed down. Face’d said he was the only one he’d been able to trust. The only one. And now. . . what? What was he to Face? He wished Face knew, really knew, that that keeping of information from him was a trust, of a sort. A way of wishing, hoping, to give Face what he wanted, what he needed. He’d just wanted to know, really know. Didn’t want to chance hurting Face with more false trails, dead ends, never leading to the heritage he was seeking.

He shook himself out of his sort-of trance, found himself still poised in front of that open picture of Face. Now he was just procrastinating, avoiding going into that too-quiet bedroom, avoiding it because he wanted it too much.

Forced himself to turn. Went to the door. Turn the knob. Do it. Turn it and go in and face it.

Face, sprawled across the bed, was aware of the quiet footsteps in the other room, the cautious turning of the knob, the strong presence of Murdock in the room. In their room. May have technically been Murdock’s house, but it was their place.

He’d stumbled in here, tired and sad and worn out. Done. Done with all of this. What was he looking for, anymore? Here he was, pushing forty, and what did it matter, that he had no parents? Had no past, nothing that made him who he was today but himself (and Father Maghill and all the women and the Team and their naming of him and Murdock and their love and).

What did any of it matter?

He didn’t feel dizzy. Didn’t feel ill. Just felt. . . done. He knew he was unsteady, but didn’t feel it. Hadn’t realized he was going to almost fall out there. Didn’t realize it now till his legs gave out and he sank silent to the floor next to the bed. Stayed there for a while, resting his head against the edge of the neatly made bed, the one he and Murdock shared, had slept in, wrapped around each other, was it only two days ago?

Tried to let his eyes relax their focus, but he couldn’t and they kept darting endlessly around the room. Finally, he closed them tight and used the bed to lever himself up. Sat heavily on the edge of it. This was ridiculous. He wasn’t sick, wasn’t hurt. Pull yourself together, Templeton.

~That’s not my name.~

Ah, well. Close enough.

Found himself getting slightly angry, again. It came in waves. Looking down at his hands, he could still feel them pushing Murdock down. He’d been shocked the second he’d done it, found himself trembling in reaction. He studied his hands now. Still trembling. Reaction to something. Wish he could stop shaking. Weak.

Always so weak. Looking for parents. That was weak. Pushing Murdock down. Weak. Falling apart over nothing at all. He’d had nothing and he’d gained nothing and why did he ever expect anything fucking more out of life? A slightly feral grin spread across his face. Where did the soldier in him go, when his heart had started hoping again, looking for Daddy? The grin turned into a snarl. Fuck it.

He didn’t have anything, he wasn’t anything. Nothing at all. He flung himself back on the bed, arm over his eyes. Block it out, block it all out. You have nothing, you are nothing. Who would you be? You’re nobody you’re nobody you’re nobody you’re

“Face.” The tone was slightly hesitant. Face froze under his arm, tried to block this out, too. Heard Murdock step closer, then the bed sank under his weight. They sat quiet that way for a long time. Just seemed to take too much energy to say anything at all. Everything felt heavy: the air around them, Murdock's weight on the bed, his arm, hiding his face. Heavy. Easier to just lie there.

When Murdock started speaking quietly, it was as though he were continuing a conversation that had paused for only a moment. “Remember that big ol’ party you wanted me to go to with you last summer? All black tie and tails, pretty women and powerful men and champagne cocktails?” He paused for a second, not so much waiting for Face to answer as gathering his own thoughts. Face dropped his arm to his side. Found himself watching Murdock. Loved the way emotions raced across his face, in line with his thoughts.

“And I really didn’t want to go. I mean, I wanted to see you, wanted to be with you that weekend. But I just didn’t want to go to that.” He smiled a little. “But didn’t want to tell you, either. I was happy you were okay with me being there, that made me feel good that you wanted me to be in that part of your life. Was afraid I’d hurt your feelings, if I didn’t want to go.” He stopped again, looked over at Face from where he sat on the side of the bed, facing the wall. “You feelings do get hurt real easy sometimes, you know, Faceman?”

Face allowed himself a little nod. He knew.

“So, I just smiled and said I would go. That made you happy. And there were all these plans to be made about tuxes and shoes and limos and fake IDs. I was so tired that week. Kept coming up with reasons as to why this was too much trouble. But it didn’t matter to you, you just handled all the details for me. Happy to.”

Now in storytelling mode, Murdock turned sideways so he was facing Face where he lay on the bed. His steady brown eyes, serious and full of mirth at the same time. How the hell did he do that? Steady on Face. Focused.

“I spent the whole week before trying to come up with a way to tell you that I just didn’t want to go. Agonized over it. The thought of spending the night at that party, when all I really wanted to do was sleep safe in the VA . . . I couldn’t stand it. I put off telling you till the night before. Last minute. Now or never.”

His smile this time was self-deprecating, but not in that sad way Face had. He was honestly amused at his rampant foolishness.

“I even called BA to get his take on it. What I should say, to avoid hurting your feelings. He told me I was a moron and to just tell you. That you loved me and knew me and that you’d understand.” Unconsciously, Murdock’s hand had fallen to take Face’s where it lay on the bed, and was stroking it. “I guess I knew you would, too. But I wanted so much to make things perfect for you. Anyway. I finally called. Almost talked myself into just going, would be less trouble than explaining.”

Face vaguely wondered what the point, if there was going to be one, was, but he let it go. It was pretty easy to get caught up in Murdock’s storytelling.

There it was, that grin again. “So I called, and you answered, all happy to hear from me. And I wanted to get it over with, and I had all of these ideas and explanations in my head, but what came out was, ‘How mad would you be if I didn’t go to the party tomorrow night?’ And my heart was beating like mad and I was clutching the phone and I had a sinking feeling in my heart that *this* would be the thing that would make you realize just how very wrong we were for each other.”

~Not so very wrong~, Face thought, but he refrained from interrupting.

“And all those thoughts went through my head in the millisecond it took you to respond, ‘Not very, why?’. That was it. No heartbreak, no major breakdown of any sort. Just a kind of mild curiosity.” Murdock was still patting Face’s hand, but his eyes were crinkled in a smile and a million miles away, in the past, thinking of that time. “We talked, and it was all easy. No problems, no worries. And you came and got me out for the day, anyway, the next day, and we got to hang out and eat pizza and, uh…” He paused, looking down at Face.

“. . .and make out. . .” Face offered softly.

In return, he got that grin, full wattage directed at him. “Yep. And it was great, and then you took me back to the VA and went to your party, and we both got to go to sleep happy.”

Face nodded slowly. They were both quiet for a few minutes, and Face looked at the sunlight waning against the bedroom floor. Then he looked over at Murdock. He’d stopped holding Face’s hand, and his own hands were clasped together, and he studied them intently.



Face just looked at him for a second, till Murdock met his gaze. Face stayed silent. Sometimes you learned more by staying quiet than you did with talk and questions. The silence lingered, and finally Murdock sighed. “I keep trying to do the right thing by you. I want to be the one to do the right thing. It’s just, I don’t always know what that thing is. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. When Bancroft made me promise. . .” He stopped as Face flinched at the mention of the name. Continued more softly. “When he made me promise, I thought I was doing the right thing.”

He sat, waiting for something, maybe, from Face. After a second, said, “Thing is, I still don’t know what the right thing to do was. Even now, I just don’t know.”

He looked sad, to Face’s eyes. Not real guilty or mad or sorry for Face or even sorry for himself. Just sad. Sad for the situation, maybe. Sad that Face had to keep searching for something he’d never find. Even if AJ had lived, he wouldn’t have found what he’d needed. Probably. AJ wasn’t who he was. AJ had provided essential ingredients for his existence. Didn’t have anything to do with who he really was. Face was made up of so many things. His childhood at the orphanage. Learning to use his looks, use whatever necessary, to take him places in life. Leslie, loving him. Leslie, leaving him. Vietnam. The things that happened there, things he didn’t want to give a name to, or even think about. Finding, getting found by, the team. Hannibal. BA. Murdock. Murdock. Finding more than he’d ever thought possible, in Murdock, of all people.

Lucky, huh? Sure. Bad luck, dumb luck, and sometimes, somehow, sheer blind luck. Blind luck that led him here, to a relationship that he never thought he’d even look for, let alone find, and one that he realized, just now, that he couldn’t live without. This wasn’t a temporary happiness, a port in a storm. This was it. What people meant when they said true love. He thought he’d known that before, but he’d been wrong.

“Hey.” Face said quietly, and Murdock turned to look at him. Face met his eyes, and didn’t try to stop his voice from shaking as he said, “I don’t know, either. I really don’t.”

Murdock kept looking at him, still with that sadness in his eyes. “Yeah.” He blinked, and for just second, he looked so damn tired. Blinked again and it was gone, almost. Damn, Murdock was almost as good at hiding as Face was.

Face yawned and stretched and somehow felt nearly normal. Wanted to feel normal. “Hey. Come here, please? Lie down with me?”

No hesitation as Murdock kicked off his shoes and crawled up beside Face. Laid down real close, but didn’t reach out to hold him, not till Face turned and pressed up against him. Pushed Murdock to lie on his back, then lay his head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat, felt his quiet sigh as he relaxed totally for the first time in days.

Murdock brought his arms up, held Face very close for a moment. Eased up a bit, but still held him, as he felt him slowly relax. Face pressed himself against Murdock, felt almost dizzy with the tiredness that slammed into him as he let down his guard against it. Closed his eyes tight. Said, so quiet, “I’m sorry.”

Murdock held him just a little tighter. “Don’t . . .”

Face shook his head against Murdock’s chest. “Not stumbling. Just saying.”

“Okay.” Face felt Murdock’s lips pressing against the top of his head. “Okay.”

Face didn’t know either. Wasn’t too sure where this was going to go. He had a father, the man had existed, he’d even seen him in the flesh, even if he’d never see him again. Too much. After almost forty years of wondering (even when he tried not to think about it, it was still there), just way too much.

He didn’t realize he had tensed up till he heard Murdock’s voice, soothing, “Shh, now, relax. Relax.”

With an effort, Face let go and melted again against Murdock’s body, absorbing his warmth like a cat. The sigh he gave was slightly shuddery and he closed his eyes tight again.

Murdock said, “Hey,” and Face felt a callused hand against his chin, raising his head up so Murdock could see his eyes. He blinked up at Murdock, tired, so tired, and Murdock ran his thumb along his jawline. Murdock looked tired, too, and serious and there was that ever-love in his eyes and he lowered his head and, gently, kissed Face. His lips were both soft and demanding, and Face responded naturally, so easy, as the familiar feelings raced through even the sluggishness of his veins, breathed in new life. The kiss lasted, long enough. They released each other slowly, and Murdock stroked Face’s cheek again. Gave him one more sweet, soft kiss before letting Face’s head fall to rest on his chest, warm and relaxed and maybe getting a little better.

A step. A good step towards fixing that which was broken. They fell asleep together, as the afternoon slanted towards evening. Wrapped easily together, close even in sleep, undone and open and waiting to heal the broken parts.


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