by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)
Response to the very first Missing Scene Challenges over at the A-Slash. Takes place at the end of Firing Line, with Murdock waiting to find out if his plan worked, if the Team survived, and what his future with Face might be. And this was one of my very first stories, just to warn you.
It cycles over in his head, again and again, never ending, and he feels the pull of madness once more, a strong pull, stronger than it has been sinceat this fateful hour
call all heaven with its power
call all heaven…
Prayers don’t work. He knows this. He does, he knows this, for sure and for certain. Dammit, he knows this.
With a shudder, he brings the world into sharp focus and feels the boat rocking under him, smells the salt of the sea. The sunlight feels blinding to him. His world feels off, his mind unbalanced. How can he center himself, hold onto his world, when his center is hidden within those walls behind him, waiting to get riddled with bullets? He tries to grasp the anger, tries to stay angry, stay centered.
at this fateful hour
But it slips away, fast, and he suddenly feels empty, still in focus, but empty, ravaged inside. He can’t help it, finds himself
with Face, here in his arms, and he can’t believe how right it feels. He had been staring out the window (this was before Stockwell, before…anything), lost in his thoughts, wondering how it was that he always ended up here, seeking comfort in Face’s presence. Wondering when it was that he had become so drawn to Face, when his defenses had come down, worrying about what Face would do if he knew. The kid got spooked so easy, sometimes, and
all of a sudden, Face’s arms were around his waist, and with a start he turned from the window and found himself drowning in those eyes. Face stood close, too close, his expression calm, but Murdock could see the pulse beating in his throat, feel his hot breath quick against his cheek.
“Hey. You in there?” The conman’s eyes carefully searched Murdock’s and Murdock found himself having to focus in order to keep breathing, for some reason, and he had to swallow before he could say “Face…”
“I worry when you wander off in your head like that. What goes on in there?” And Face lifted one hand to run a thumb over Murdock’s temple, still searching his eyes. “Where do you go, when your eyes get dark like that?”
Lost in Face’s eyes, Murdock was trying to breathe, trying to think, to speak, when Face slowly leaned in, hesitating just a moment before brushing Murdock’s lips with his own. “Face. What are you...Face.”
And, “Shhh,” Face murmured, both hands now on Murdock’s temples. “Shh, I just - I just want…” Eyes closed, Face shifted slightly, pulled Murdock in towards him, and all of a sudden Murdock’s arms, his mouth, his soul, were melting into Face…
But that was before. Before Face went away. Before all of it.
He didn’t know, he just didn’t know. That was it, just that kiss, just that moment, just that - everything. Then the phone rang, and Face broke away, and it was Hannibal, and they had to run. And then the plan, and Curtis, and the airport, and the hijacking, and he didn’t want to push the kid. He was so afraid of losing what he didn’t even know if he had, that he didn’t push, didn’t ask, didn’t even dare to look into those blue eyes. Just get through the mission, just get though it. But he came back, came back all hyped up, because it was falling into place, to find that it had fallen apart. He strode back, determined to talk to Face, sure, or almost sure, that Face would put all his fears to rest, would tell him that the kiss meant what it seemed to mean.the sea with its deepness
the rocks with their steepness
the earth with its starkness
But they were gone and his soul hardened itself against the despair that threatened to overwhelm him.the sea with its deepness
all heaven with its power
the seas with its deepness
The boat jerked sharply underneath him, and he glanced up as Frankie lurched into the seat beside him.
“You make the switch okay?” he asked harshly, his soul feeling ready to crack if he so much as moved.
Murdock was staring off into the middle distance, that thousand-yard-stare of his that made Frankie uneasy. The man was crazy - institutionalized, if currently escaped - after all.
“What’ll sound better - I think or I hope?” Frankie joked uncomfortably, then flinched from the sidelong glare Murdock cast his way.
They sank into silence and Murdock fell into his litany of prayer, though prayers didn’t work, never worked in Vietnam, wouldn’t work here,At Tara in this fateful hour
I call all heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness
And the snow with its whiteness
And the fire with all the strength it hath
And the lightening with its rapid wrath
And the wind with its swiftness along the path
And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place
By god’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of
The rifleshots rang out. Murdock jerked harshly, as though the bullets were piercing him, him and not his boys, his men, not…Face.
He drew further in on himself and
“…darkness,” he murmured.
“What’s that, man?” Frankie asked, shaken by the shots, anxious to see if the plan had worked.
For the first time Murdock turned and looked at Frankie, piercing him with those ravaged eyes, but not seeing Frankie, or anything at all. Frankie flinched visibly and shifted away, dropping his eyes, unable to hold onto that gaze.
“Darkness. Between myself and the powers of darkness.” Murdock turned to cast his gaze the other way, lost in the fog slowly shifting over the stockade walls.
Breathe. Breathe. It seemed to take every ounce of strength he had just to remember to breathe. The interminable boat ride to the mainland, with even Frankie subdued into silence. The guards allowing “the priest” to go, and delivering Murdock to the VA, where the nurses were quiet and careful with him. He was taken to his room without the usual round of questions. They knew where he had gone, and they knew that he had failed.
Alone in his room, he distractedly changed out of the priest ensemble, back to his customary khakis, cap, and jacket, then swiftly disarmed the alarm at the window, and hoisted himself out. It was late at that point and he jogged silently through the darkness of the grounds, still refusing to think about what might or might not be.
call all heaven
He wanted to stop, to break down, to crawl back into the VA and fall into a dreamless sleep. But he knew any such sleep would not be dreamless and that to do so would be to give in. “Which I’m not about to do,” he thought grimly to himself. And he loped off into the night.
Then. He had found Frankie. Stockwell’s people had called. The bodies had been retrieved, and he believed - had to believe - that they had been retrieved alive, though Stockwell’s men had been “unable to confirm or deny” that statement.
But that was okay. Prayers didn’t work, but plans did. Maybe not always the way they were supposed to, but they worked. He was going to see them, be with them, once again, oh god, see Face. He was the picture of restrained ebullience, fairly bubbling over. His boys, his boys, no longer hidden behind those walls. And Face…he pushed that one down, there was plenty of time for that, now, time enough to talk, to figure what they needed to do, time enough for, well, anything. Anything at all.
Pulling up, he could see them, see them sitting up in the body bags, oh god, oh yes, they were alive, they were alive. Leaping out of the van, he ran over. The impulse to embrace Face, to cry, to let go of tightly-held emotions, was strong. But no. Take it slow. He ran to BA, thrilling to be able to harass the angry mudsucker with annoying kisses, just what the big guy would pretend to hate.
And Hannibal. His C.O. Murdock gave him a big hug, and the colonel responded in kind. Only after that did he allow himself to turn to Face, to focus on Face, although he had had a heightened awareness of him the entire time.
His happiness flooding across his face in what he was sure was wild grin, he headed towards Face, arms outstretched. “And you, you handsome devil, you.” What the hell, he was crazy, he could get away with anything. Face warded him off with both arms, saying, “No, no, no…”. He submitted to Murdock’s embrace, patting his back, but that was all it seemed to be: a submission, and nothing else.
I call all heaven.
Murdock felt something die inside. His heart felt flat, crushed, but his smile wavered only for an instant, and with a shrug, he backed away, back towards BA, the grin now only plastered on, his heart in his throat. But he never fell apart, only cracked a bit, and greeted BA with enthusiasm once more, wrapping him in an embrace BA allowed only because he felt the shaking desperation in the captain’s frame.
Face felt more than saw Murdock freeze at the rebuff, then he walked swiftly away, too quickly to see the panic that flashed through Face’s features. Joking was one thing - a reflex for all of them, to ward off real emotion. But to wake up and see that face, before he had a chance to even - no. In preparing himself for the worst, Face had shut himself down, refused to allow himself to need Murdock. He felt flooded with confusion, but it was not the time, the place, for any of this.
Sideways glances showed him Murdock hiding his hurt shock. And he cringed at the flatness and anger in his voice, as Murdock responded to Stockwell’s news of moving the team to Langley. “Me and the big guy. We just got back together.”
Murdock was hurt, and more than hurt. Face’s brain was all fuzzy, all static; he couldn’t get it together. When the guys followed Stockwell out, he tried to catch Murdock’s arm, tried to pull him back, but Murdock was moving too quickly, and Face’s reflexes were too slow.
Trying to focus, he just shook his head and followed Hannibal out. Murdock went out of his way to avoid him on the mission, then disappeared, as Stockwell's goons appeared to take them to Langley.
Disappeared, and hadn’t returned. Till his larger-than-life, over-the-top appearance on the doorstep of their Langley residence. Manic smile over drawn features, no intimacy in his handshake, but a blasted gaze into Face’s eyes, a sight from which Face flinched.
Somehow, as Stockwell’s men cleared the dogs from the room, the rest of the team went with them, knowing only that something was up, that Murdock wasn’t quite right, and that Face would be the best one to handle it. Thoughtfully, BA disarmed the last of the listening devices on his way out. Holes in security, indeed.
Suddenly alone with Face, Murdock’s features darkened, and he grew still. He walked slowly over and perched on the arm of the couch near Face, feet on the cushion. He clasped his hands in front of him and his eyes confronted the lieutenant.
Face tried to summon his most disarming smile. Heart pounding, he tried for casual, and reached out to Murdock. Murdock, not roughly, pushed his hand away.
Face let his arm drop to his side. “Murdock, I…“
But somehow his never-failing charm failed him this time. He faltered under Murdock’s steady gaze, and stopped.
Murdock allowed a beat to pass before he said carefully, “No pressure here, Face, but I gotta say you didn’t seem too happy to see me. Not at the docks, and not now.”
Face held Murdock’s gaze for a moment before he sighed and turned away, heading towards the bar in the corner of the room. He leaned over and pulled a bottle out from behind the bar. “Drink?” he asked, snagging two shot glasses.
“Sure,” Murdock slowly responded from his position on the couch. Face’s mind was racing as poured two shots and carried one over to Murdock. Murdock took it and held it, his dark eyes watching as Face downed his, then stood, looking somewhat helplessly over at Murdock, not quite able to meet his eyes.
Finally, Face ran his fingers through his hair, and sighed. “Murdock, I am happy to see you. Happy, hell, more than happy.”
He sighed again and tried to think how to explain this. “Look, when I woke up back there, I just…I don’t know. When I was in the stockade again, it was…well, Hannibal and BA were there, but that didn’t help. It didn’t make things any easier. You want to know what it is that I’m afraid of? It’s that I’m alone when I’m not with you. And I can’t have that, I can’t do that. In that place, I got used to you not being there, and that’s easier, it really is, than - it’s just easier.”
Murdock put down his drink and slid off the arm of the couch, stood before Face. “Is it easier? 'Cause Face, I’m here now. However complicated it might be - I’m here.”
Face was silent. His blue eyes were dark as he gazed at Murdock.
“You push me and pull me, Face, and I end up not knowing where the hell I am. Only that you’re my center, you know?” Murdock tried desperately to keep his voice from breaking. “I was so alone, Face, and…” He stopped, tried to breathe. He turned away from those too-blue eyes and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He squeezed his eyes tight shut, trying to close down the way Face did, so easy. Breathe.
A small sound behind him, a drawn breath. Then Face was in front of him, hands on his shoulders, then around his waist. Murdock allowed his eyes to open, found Face there. The pilot wasn’t much good at shielding his emotions, and this time he didn’t even try, let the horror of what he’d been going through at the thought of losing Face, losing his entire family, losing everything, show through clearly. And Face’s shields fell, too.
His voice didn’t break, but it came close. “Murdock. It takes me a while sometimes.” He sighed, inwardly cursing himself for his defensive self-preservation reflex, often cleverly disguised as rampant stupidity. Time now for honesty. “I need you, I think. I don’t know when that happened, but I do. Just - I don’t know how good I’m going to be at this. Don’t - don’t let me get rid of you too easy.”
Murdock took a breath. Somewhat shakily, he said, “You can be kind of a dumb blonde sometimes, you know that?”
Face gave him a small smile. “I guess you better be there to keep me in line.” His face grew serious and leaning in close, he pulled Murdock to him, their lips almost brushing. “I am alone when I’m not with you,” he whispered shakily.
“You do know that it doesn’t have to be that way? That I’m yours? That you’re not alone?”
“I want to know that, but I don’t think I do. I’m tired of being alone, Murdock.”
“You’re not alone. I’ve got you. We’ll work on making you believe that.”
“I’d like that.”
They melted into the kiss. And somehow Face let himself believe, just a little bit, that there was a future in it.
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