Nobody’s in Love This Year

by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)



This was really supposed to be a nice, happy little Face and Murdock story, where they resolve the difficulties that have come between them while at Langley. It kinda didn't work out that way. These boys are stubborn.

Much thanks to Mel and SnowFlake for the wonderful beta job on this tale. As ever, I could never do this without you guys.

"Due to lack of commitment on both of our parts
We're going our separate ways

This show of indifference is breaking our hearts
It's making us crazy, yeah
You sit back and wait for your love to accrue
You'll be waiting a long, long time
Nobody's in love this year
Not even you and I."

-Warren Zevon, Nobody's In Love This Year

I know it's me. I know I make things more difficult than they need to be. It's me. Something wrong with the way I think, I guess. Why aren't I the crazy one?

I lean my head back, let it rest on the back of the couch. Frankie had the game on in here, but after I snarled at him enough he retreated upstairs, casting that wide-eyed look back over his shoulder. I should have let him alone, gone upstairs myself and stayed there so as to not cause any more damage. I'm not really fit for human interaction.

I know it's my fault. I guess it's just - potential. I love potential. Potential is easy. You size up the situation, see what you can do with it, figure things out and set them in motion. When you're not there yet - when things are still in the planning stage - it's easy. And I guess what happens is I play it out in my mind before it even has a chance to happen. Play it out to all the logical end-game scenarios. And I guess the odds of something good happening aren't that great. Not with this game.

Not that I'm helping matters any.

I sit here alone, legs sprawled in front of me. I can only barely hear the sound of the game on TV from upstairs. The ceiling fan is buzzing quietly up above. Hannibal and BA are out. Just driving, I think. Gives them a certain sense of freedom, though I know they're not really fooled by it. They're tied here. We all are, even Murdock. Maybe especially Murdock.

It might seem like he has more freedom than any of us. He had it, you know. He was free. No strings. We were alive and okay, and he knew that. Still, he walked right out of that place, the VA, declared really and truly sane. Did it quick, too. He always knew just what answers to give. All this time. He always knew. Could have played that game any time he wanted. Didn't have to stay there. I'm not saying he's not crazy - he is. But they were never gonna be able to help him there. His therapy is us, I guess. The team. We're kind of his one hold on reality. If this life can be called that.

I let my eyes close as I slump there on the couch. The only time Murdock gets that look - that really cold, scary look - is when one of us is threatened, his tenuous hold on reality is threatened. He. . .changes. I can hardly see him in there when he gets that look. His sort of anger is cold. Colder than ice, colder than anything. He'll do anything, anything at all, in order to get to us. To help us, in any way he can. I can just picture what it must have been like. Him, playing their game, going through the motions of sanity so well, perfectly, in order to get out of there. In order to get here.

In order to get to us.

We're trapped here and so long as he has this. . .this dependence on us, he'll be trapped here, too. Stockwell will make sure he goes with us when we go down. And we will go down, that's the one thing of which I am certain. This isn't a game we can win. I told you, I'm all about potential. And in this situation, there's none. Not for anything good, anyway.

"Is that why?" I ask the question out loud. I'd really like an answer to it. Why we couldnít do it. Couldn't make things work between us. Why we failed. Why I failed. Failed in every way possible. I'm so alone now, more alone than I've ever been. Threw away happiness with both hands and I just don't know why.

Am I trying to save him from this? Trying to keep him out of it? Break his hold on us, on the Team, by forcing him to break away from me? I'd like to think that's why it didn't work with us, I really would. Maybe some part of it is that. I don't want to be the one who's keeping him here, trapped. But that's not all. It started unraveling before, and I just can't figure out why. Too damn busy protecting myself then, maybe, and too busy protecting him now. But I can't keep the cut clean. I keep. . .edging back. Wanting more. He gives it to me each time. Always. It's not easy for him. It tears at him. I can see it. He tries to hide it, but it's easy enough to see. That is one man who surely wears his heart on his sleeve.

It's exhausting. The whole process, I mean. I put on this show of indifference and it's so damn hard when I care so much. I want him to believe, fully and completely, that this is how I want things. And I want to shake him, for ever believing that I could walk away like this. See how it's complicated? So I waver. I fall. I give in, every once and again, and call him late at night and go to him. He lets me. It's killing him. It's killing both of us. I wish I could stop it. Wish I could just walk away. Let him go. I wish I didn’t have to Wish there was some other way.

I really do.

I wish it could all be different. That we could have it all, could fix each other.

That we could do this. Be who we are, together, and make it work. Could have it all. Could fix each other. We were close there, for a while. Close.

Potential. Tons of goddamn potential. That's what it's all about.

"What'd you do to Frankie?"

My eyes snap open and focus on Murdock, leaning in the doorway, arms crossed. He's tired, I can see it in every part of him. His eyes and his shoulders and the way he stands and I just ache for him. He's tired. Tired like I am. Can't even keep up the front anymore. I just watch him for a second, before I realize that there had been a question. I shrug. "Nothing. Sent him away. Why?"

Murdock smiles a little. "He jumped like a scared rabbit when I came into the kitchen. Told me not to tell you he'd come down to get a snack. Told me not to come in here, that you were 'scary' tonight."

"So of course you came right on in."

"Well, yeah." He uncrosses his arms, then doesn't seem to know what to do with his hands. Finally he jams them into his pockets. Glances around the room, looking at anything but me.

I need to not want him.

He leans there uncomfortably for a minute, then crosses the room. Hesitates by the couch. Looks at me, then sits down silently on the chair across from the couch. Might as well be a thousand miles away, given how close I feel to him. The coffee table is a vast divide.

He doesn't want to sit next to me. That's just fine by me.

He watches me. His shoulders hunch in his jacket. That ancient goddamn jacket, that smells of leather and smoke. Don't know how it's possible, it's been so damn long since he smoked, but it does. Just a little bit. When I'm close to him, I can smell it. Leather and smoke.

"You look like hell," he says, peering over at me with those tired eyes.

"Why, thanks," I say wryly. He doesn't look much better.

He shrugs. "Just, it takes some doing for you to look anything other'n perfect." He's leaning forward, studying his feet.

"Yeah, well..." I stop. Nowhere to go. "Guess things have been rough."

He looks up again, his eyes worried. "Your shoulder okay?" I got skimmed by a bullet last time out. Flesh wound only. He knows that.

"It's fine," I say softly. I think I like it, him looking at me all worried like that. He doesn't do it much, anymore. Look at me, I mean.

He leans forward, buries his face in his hands for a few seconds. "How long we gonna do this for?"

I don't say anything. I don't have an answer. Why do we have to do this?

There are rules, there are reasons, I know there are, but all I can think is that here, like this, I want him. It hurts to try to not want him.

He's leaning back in the chair now, those long legs sprawled in front of him. His elbows rest on the arms of the chair, hands curled over his eyes. He looks tired. Defeated.

I feel so fucking desperate.

I get up slowly. I run my hands through my hair. Think. I can't do this anymore.

I walk around the coffee table. Slow. He's dropped his hands, is watching me with lidded eyes. The air seems thick in here, not at all dispersed by the slowly spinning fan overhead. The room is warm, hot, almost, but my hands are freezing. He's looking up at me.

"Facey...please don't." His voice is very quiet in the room.

I'm on my knees beside him. He smells like leather and smoke. "I just..." I reach out a hand and touch his face. He leans forward so quick, and he's kissing me, hard and I'm kissing him back. It's all mixed up, the kissing and the need. How can I possibly do this?

He yanks me up so I'm against him, so we're a tangle together. Kisses me fiercely again. Then he pushes me away, hard, so I'm (again) on my knees on the floor. "Don’t do this to me, Face. Just...stop fucking doing this to me." His voice is raw. His eyes are so fucking damaged.

I'm sprawled there at his feet. I don't move. I can't. "Listen," I say. Desperate. My voice sounds desperate, even to my own ears.

"Stop it, Face."

"But just listen to me..."

"No!" He's down on his knees next to me and he grabs my shoulders roughly. "I don't want to listen to you anymore, Face." He shakes me and he looks so angry. "I can't do this!"

I don't say anything more. I just look at him. He's staring at me. I can see the tension all through him as he holds onto me. We're together on the floor. Tangled up again. He's so wild. I watch his eyes, all lost. His pulse beats in his throat and he's so very, very close to breaking now.

I recognize it only because I know it in myself. I can't not want him.

"Face." Asking. Lost and desperate. He wants me to decide. To stay away and stop all of this. His eyes ask me to stop hurting him. "God, Face." Hearing my name on his lips is what it takes here and now. I'm up against him so quick, and he gives in when I pull him close. Not easily; I can feel the tension in his body. He wants to pull away. Wants to tell me no. Tell me enough. That we can't do this. That he can't do this. Not again.

Not this time.

But he gives in when I pull him close.

He's kissing me as I'm kissing him. His lips are warm and hard against mine, needing and angry. He clutches my shoulders tightly and I think he's going to throw me away from him again. But his body is against mine.

"You can't keep doing this to me." He sounds so sad and needing, and he pulls me ever closer. On our knees and I whisper fiercely against his lips, "It's not about that."

I'm shoving off that jacket and he's shaking and pushing against me, pressing me back. Half-drags me to my feet as he gets up himself and pulls me over onto the couch. He's on top of me, pressing down, kissing me again, still, always. "Then what's it about, Facey?" He's given in and, as ever, can give nothing less than his all. His kisses are fierce, and he works his way from my lips to my neck. Licks down to my shoulder, tongue rough against my skin. Bites down hard, against my shoulder, and I moan.

I can't even tell if it hurts.

"What are you tryin' to do to me, Facey?" His fingers are swiftly unbuttoning my shirt and he shoves it open, runs his tongue over my chest.

"Please...please." I arch up against him. His weight on me is heavy and right and how the hell can I not do this?

He laughs, but it sounds like crying. "So now you say please? Now you beg for it, Face?" He lays his hand on the side of my face, traces my cheekbone with his thumb. His eyes are stark and terrible. "You don't want me, Face, you want this." He pushes himself against me, so hard, and I groan. Close my eyes to escape from that look.

I've hurt him so badly.

"Listen," I say, and I can hear the desperation in my own voice. "I want..."

"I know what you want, Facey. God, after all this time, you don't really think you have to tell me that?" He moves down, his mouth planting kisses, hot and wet, along my body. He moves lower still and presses his mouth against my jeans, breathing long and hot through them. The heat against my's like fire. I moan low in my throat. Think. Try to think. I struggle to move away from him, but his hands are opening my jeans. "Murdock, I want...oh Christ." He's engulfed me with his mouth, swallowing me whole, and I arch up off the couch.

He is so damn good at this. Ducking and hiding and not facing things. I get so lost when I'm with him and that scares the hell out of me. I know that now. I think I know that.

I struggle, push him away, back. He falls back to the other side of the couch, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “What, Facey, I'm not even a good enough cocksucker for you anymore?" he sneers.

When he gets that look - so old and used - I want to cry. He plays me so well. Knows me enough to hurt me, bad. I guess that's potential, too. Not all good, is it? I've never really managed to push him over the edge into that anger, though. Not really. I guess he loves me too much.

I like that thought. There's - I smile a little - potential there.

He blanches when he sees my smile, and watching him there, suddenly sharply in focus - jacket off, hair mussed, eyes shiny (with tears? With anger? With both?) - I just melt. I try to pull myself together, clothes back in order. Need to show him, to tell him, something, explain things so they make sense. It's not about the sex (though I want him, I do. Want him so bad). It's more than that. So much more.

He's pulling in on himself and I can't let that happen. His eyes are wary and tired. Still so tired. He wants to not look at me, but I know he'll bring his eyes to mine. He wants to leave, to run, to not get tangled up again - but he won't.

I hold my gaze steady and he finally looks at me. His eyes are uneasy.

"Listen to me." He knows what I'm asking here.

"I can't do this, Face." All the anger is gone and his voice breaks my heart.

"Listen to me. I want more than this." I’m trying so hard to get this out and succeeding not at all. "I want you."

He just looks at me some more. Falters in his anger.

"I. . ." I take a breath. All the air in the room is gone again. "I can't not want you."

The front door opens and we can hear Hannibal and BA come into the house. He's still so open, heart on his sleeve for a moment. He looks at me and shrugs. "You had me," he says softly. Then the look is gone. He's gone. He gets up off the couch and picks up his jacket from where it lies crumpled on the floor. Slides it on and turns away from me. Hannibal and BA come into the room just as Murdock slips out, with a murmured, "Hey Colonel, hey big guy."

They look from me to him, as he retreats out the door and doesn’t look back. I struggle off the couch, running my hands through my hair and yanking my shirt back into place. BA's eyes narrow and he just shakes his head at me. I push past them to follow Murdock out. By the time I get to the front door I'm running. Running, but it's too late. He's disappeared, so good at that.

I turn in a circle outside, searching for his retreating form, but he's gone. Well and truly gone. He's more aware than any of us, so aware of how trapped we all are. How trapped he and I are. He knows there's something between us and he knows I use that connection without meaning to. Use him to ground me, and isn't that just too damn ironic? I can see it now, though, see that it's him I need and not just the grounding. I need him, body and soul, and I think that maybe I've lost any opportunity I may have had. Lost the opportunity I did have. I had him, once.

Not anymore.


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