by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)
In which Face and Murdock are really, really, really in lurrrve. So they cry about it. A lot. I apologize, I was still figuring out how to write boys.
It didn't seem fair.
But what was ever fair?
Stupid. Fourth-grade sense of justice. There was no justice, except what they provided themselves. Life wasn't fair. But wasn't it supposed to get easier? Once you found someone, once you went through hell and high-water to find your other half, wasn't it supposed to get easier?
Did Face think he was stupid? Did he actually believe that Murdock, of all people, couldn't see when he was being played? Fuck him.
He wasn't blind. Murdock saw everything. Why the hell couldn't Face see how much he was hurting him? Cheating was one thing, he could almost understand Face's need to cheat, to be with more than one person, to prove his self-worth. However crazy it was, somehow, Murdock could almost, almost get that. Face was messed up, that was for sure. It was one of the reasons they fit together so well; they were both so damaged. But don't think Murdock would be taken in. That wasn't fair. Murdock knew Face better than anybody. Don't fuck with that.
Don't underestimate that.
You'll just end up getting hurt.
Murdock felt he was containing himself very well as he walked carefully around the apartment, adjusting the sound on the stereo just slightly louder than necessary. Face wasn't home yet, but would be soon, and Murdock was tired, so tired, of the dance. Fuck this. He had let it go long enough.
A key in the lock, and the knob turning. Face walked in, perfect features slightly creased by tired lines. Tie askew, expensive suit jacket wrinkled. Murdock tried to, wanted to, hold onto his frustration, his anger, his determination, but found he wasn't able to. Every fucking time. That perfect face, those damn eyes. It wasn't fair.
He stopped pacing and, swiftly crossing the room, relieved Face of his bulging briefcase with a small smile. Face gave him a look of gratitude and a stunning, albeit tired, smile, and surrendered willingly. He gave a quick kiss to Murdock’s turned cheek and headed to the bedroom.
The smile was enough to melt any heart. Enough to literally bring tears to Murdock's eyes (of frustration, of anger) and he turned away, but not wanting to get into it just yet (was there ever a good time?). He dropped the briefcase in a corner and went back to the kitchen, to the sauce he was trying to concentrate on making.
Not likely. Images poured over him, drowning him. All that he and Face had gone through, all they had shared. He had to drop the wooden spoon and raise his hands, press them to his eyes to stem the tears. He took a long, shuddery breath. Dammit, he did not want to get into this now. It wasn't a fight he could win.
He knew that. Dammit, he knew that. So shut up.
He heard Face's tired footsteps in the hall outside the kitchen and was sick of trying to figure out if the tired sound was a put-on or not. Was this even worth it? Could it ever be worth it?
He tried so hard not to melt when Face's arms slipped around his waist as he stood stirring the sauce on the stove. But how could he help it? Face's scent was intoxicating, and he found himself laying his head back against Face's shoulder without volition.
Why was it so easy to fall? Why so hard to figure out what to believe?
Face had laid his chin on Murdock's shoulder, watched him stirring. Murdock could feel Face’s breath on his cheek, warm, and it shook him, as it always did. He wanted to melt away, to let everything melt away, easy, so easy. He let out a shuddering, sighing breath and felt Face's arms tighten around him, providing comfort, providing strength.
But he didn't need Face to hold him up. Did he? He didn't need those arms tight around him. Didn't need that warm body to wrap himself around in the night. Didn't need the talks, the understanding, the broken soul, the only one that could understand his broken own. Didn't need that, nope, not at all.
Who was he kidding?
"Hey." Face's voice, soft and concerned in his ear. Concerned, hell. If he was so fucking concerned, then he wouldn't do what he did. What it was in his nature to do. That wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and it fucking hurt. It hurt them both. So why did he do it? What did he have left to prove? Who was he trying to prove it to? Face was Murdock's heart, his soul, his other half, his everything. Was asking for the same in return asking too much?
"Hey." And he shrugged, pushed Face back, disentangling himself as he cursed himself for spurning those arms, that body. Why did the right thing to do have to suck so much?
Face released him, stepped back. Murdock could feel the confusion radiating from his body and steadfastly refused to turn around, couldn't stand to see the hurt in those seriously fucking blue eyes. Nope. Definitely couldn't face that.
He dropped the spoon on the counter and turned around, still avoiding looking at Face, though of course he took in everything in a glance. God, why did he have to be so very beautiful? No wonder Murdock wasn't the only one to fall for him, fall for it. Was everything a front with Face? It was impossible to tell. Murdock thought he knew, thought he saw, thought that he was all that Face could have ever wanted. That's what Face had said. Why get involved with a conman? Whose fault was that? Just his. Just Murdock's.
Face sank down onto the stool by the wooden kitchen table, propped up his head with his hand. Murdock knew he was being studied as he rummaged around in the fridge, cursing aloud with frustration when he couldn't find the lemon juice. Face would, he just would, have to come out dressed in that impossibly soft blue shirt, the one that made his eyes fairly burn out the utter blueness. That, matched with the faded jeans that hugged so nicely, made it impossible for Murdock to stick to his guns, to confront. He didn't want to, he didn't want to, it wasn't fair that he had to, all he wanted was Face, all he ever wanted was Face. Face came home to him, Murdock knew that if he turned to him, that those arms in the soft blue shirt would envelope him and make everything seem all right.
He was folding and he knew it.
He stood trembling, resolutely keeping his back to Face (don't look, don't get lost in those blue eyes, just don't), hands braced on the counter, trying to calm himself. He didn't hear Face get up, so wrapped up was he with the battle in his soul, so when Face oh so silently slipped up beside him and quietly handed him the lemon juice he had removed from the cabinet, Murdock's reaction was one of pure instinct. He whirled on Face, raised the bottle, and almost, almost, threw it.
Face started back only slightly, then stopped, eyes wide, concerned. His hands were raised, not in defense, but in calming, and he hesitated just a moment before laying them on Murdock, trying to heal, trying to calm, trying to relay a sense of safety, like you would do with a scared puppy.
Murdock found himself looking into those eyes he had been trying to avoid. And he got lost. His walls collapsed and his arm dropped to his side.
"Murdock." Face pulled him close. "What is it? Come here." He tried to pull him into the living room, and Murdock first held back, then gave in, unable to hold the resistance.
He stumbled after Face, blindly (was he always so very blind?) and allowed himself to be pulled down to the couch, though he rebelled against being held snug against Face's side. He wanted to, god, he wanted to give in, to let go, like he had so many times before. It would be so easy to just sink into those arms and forget all about it, all about everything.
It seemed that Face never gave in. When Face got angry, the last thing you wanted to risk was touching him. His anger was explosive, volatile, and the slightest touch would set it off. All Murdock wanted to do when he was angry was to break out of the bonds of that anger. If he didn't, he'd immerse himself in it, lose himself in it.
He knew if he let it, that anger (mere anger) would turn into hatred and he didn't want to hate Face, couldn't let that happen.
He couldn't help but submit to Face's ministrations. Face's hands held his face, then his shoulders, then his hand rested over Murdock's fast-beating heart.
"Murdock." Face's fatigue was obvious in the lines of his face. He only occasionally showed his age but this was one of those times. But his eyes were clear (and blue) and piercing and his voice steady. Steady. "You're so wound up, you're going to hurt yourself." (Me? I'm going to hurt myself? Don't think so, Faceguy. That's not how this works). Face paused, moved his hands to cup the back of Murdock's neck. "I hate it when you don't talk to me. I wish you would tell me..."
Murdock's voice was low and almost steady. "You wish I would tell you?" Face thought he was so fucking smooth. "You want me to tell you? Is that what you want, Face?" Face's eyes were still. He didn't move, didn't twitch. But Murdock knew Face. Could see the muscles in his shoulders tighten. Murdock saw everything. Face's hands dropped to Murdock's shoulders, held them just a little too tightly.
Murdock didn't pull away. Just sat there, looking into Face's eyes, eyes that were slowly clouding.
Quiet. Smooth. Brown eyes into blue ones. "How about you tell me, Face?" Willing, hoping, praying. "Face." His face stretched into a pseudo-smile. He felt his tears threatening to overflow again, and he had to hold his breath for just a second. "You know me, muchacho, better than I know myself, sometimes." Another pause. Face didn't move. Gently, now. "You think I don't know? You really think that, Facey?"
He was trying so hard to stay angry. Face had closed down on him. His features were cold and still. Not mad, no. Just not really here.
It wasn't easy to maintain that hold, to not just let it go and melt back into the perfect life they had created with each other. But the words were out there and he couldn't take them back. Didn't want to take them back.
Face sat silent before him. His skill at words seemed to have left him. He'd dropped his hands to his lap and was quite still. Murdock sat beside, but apart, from him on the couch. The music rolled by in the background but all he could hear was Face's silence.
He'd spoken and he refused to fill in that space where unspoken words needed to go. It was Face's turn now and Murdock could wait for it. He was good at the waiting game. He'd had practice.
After a time (too long), while Face sat first staring at him, then down at his hands in his lap, Face finally cleared his throat.
"Well," he said. His hand came up, gestured vainly in the air, searching for the words, it seemed. "I, um." Face stopped, cleared his throat again, closed his eyes for a moment. He opened them and stared blindly into the corner. "I'm thinking that you know a lot of this -but that's not the point, is it?"
Murdock felt every muscle in his body tighten. It felt like he was collapsing in on himself (never mind, I don't want to know, I was wrong, don't tell me, I don't want to know, can't stand to know). He clenched his hands together and willed himself to stay quiet. His eyes followed Face as he slowly rose and made as if to pace, then just stood still, arms at his side, helpless.
Face wouldn't look at Murdock. Murdock couldn't take his eyes off of Face. "I - there was - that is, there have been -" He broke off. "Dammit," he hissed, more to himself than anyone else. To Murdock, it looked as though he was breaking, actually breaking, pieces of him falling away, and all Murdock wanted to do was hold him as he had so many times before, hold him, heal him, in doing so, heal himself.
That was fair, wasn't it? That was right, and oh, easy, it would be so easy.
Let him tell you.
Let him hurt you.
Let him break you.
Face had his hands fisted at his sides. His voice was none too steady, had almost no trace of that smooth conman edge.
"I don't know what you're thinking. I don't know if the truth is better or worse. There was this woman, from last week. The week before? Whenever that con that I ran for Hannibal was. I needed to convince her to give us access to the files. She was blonde and pretty and dumb as a post. I don't know...I didn't mean...she just kept touching me, smiling at me. She wanted me." Now he turned, his blue eyes wide, seemed close to tears, even though this was Face and Face never cried. Never. "I wanted you, but she wanted me.” A pause, a breath. "Murdock, I couldn't say no."
Murdock had to remind himself to breathe, his heart beating in his throat. There seemed to be some sort of roaring in his head, making it hard to think, hard to hear. For a few moments, he actually saw red. He wanted to hold Face and hit him, break him down and piece him back together again.
Suddenly, without a real memory of rising, he was up, in his lover's face, squeezing his shoulders hard, too hard, digging into the flesh, trembling with - what? Anger? Rage? Betrayal? Face had no reaction as Murdock pulled on him, actually yanked him up onto his toes. But he was meeting Murdock's eyes, waiting for it. Waiting for what? Eyes full of tears that wouldn't, couldn't fall.
Murdock's voice was shaking, his hands were shaking, his heart was shaking. "Do you not know? Can you honestly tell me that you don't know? Fuck you, I know you know. Don't do this to me, don't fuck with me, Face, you know me and I know you and just don't fuck with that, okay? It's not right, it's not fair, so don't do it."
"I'm not trying to fuck with you, fuck with this, Murdock, I'm not."
"That doesn't make it right! I love you."
"And I know you love me…"
"So don't fucking cheat on me!" Murdock realized that he was close to screaming, not to mention probably hurting Face's shoulders. He abruptly dropped his hands and carefully stepped back, trying to reign himself in, really trying. His throat hurt from the yelling, as raw as his anger.
Murdock very deliberately paced away from Face, walked to the far side of the room, turned off the stereo, stood carefully breathing. "So. You and that woman. You went home with her. You had sex with her." No response from Face. Murdock turned around, saw his answer in Face's anguished look. He sighed. Ran his fingers through his hair. Walked slowly back to the couch, dropped down on it heavily, let his head sag. Finally he looked up at Face, still standing in the center of the room. He sat gazing at him, chin resting on his hands. Think. Be smart. Think. Okay. "Face." He laughed, unevenly. "I just don't know what to do here. This never occurred to me. I mean, sure it did, at the beginning. But then you said you were sure. You said you were mine." "I AM yours." "No! You're not. Not when you give yourself away to pretty girls. You weren't mine, not mine, not at all, not when you gave yourself to her." "Murdock. What do I... how can I... I can't. Can I? I can't just fix this. I’m hurting you. What's the matter with me? I should...I'll leave." He started unsteadily towards the bedroom. He was totally unprepared and almost fell when Murdock grabbed him from behind, spun him around to face him.
"No! You don't get to do that! You don't get to leave! You don't get to walk away this time. You don't get to leave me. You stay here and you deal with this. You just - you deal with this. You don't just walk away from this, walk away from me." His voice was harsh and raw, still raw. Anger was burning inside of Murdock, but he wasn't about to let this go. Face was damaged, for sure. Didn't mean he wasn't still everything there was to be. Didn't mean he wasn't still Murdock's own heart.
Face was bewildered. "If I'm hurting you, and I am, what I did - I am, then I should go."
"I never pegged you for a coward, Face." Fighting words.
Face pressed his lips together and his face flushed. He ground out, "I'm not a coward. You of all people should know that I'm not a fucking coward."
"Then why are you running away?"
"To keep from hurting you!"
"It gets tough and you run away. Nice, Face."
"What do you want from me?" This time it was Face up in Murdock's space, crowding him. "I don't know what to do! I don't know how to fix this, how to take back what I did. God, I don't know why I did it! What do I do? What do you want from me?"
Angry. Good. Anger was something. Anger meant there was something Face was fighting for.
"You." It came out harshly. "You, I want you, and you can't give that too me. You're too careful, you're too scared, you fuck up on purpose, then you want to run away for my own good."
"I didn't fuck up on purpose."
"Then why did you do it?" "I don't know why. She wanted me, so I let her have me. That's all.” Face just sounded tired now. “I don't even remember her name. And she sure as hell wasn't looking for mine. But she wanted me, and I don't know how to say no to that."
"What does that even mean?"
"It means it's good to hedge your bets. It means that you never know who's going to throw you away next, so you take what you can get. Maybe she didn't love me, but she wanted me and who am I to say no?"
"Face." Murdock's tone was shocked. "I'm not going to throw you away. Ever."
"I know that!" But he didn't. Murdock could see in every muscle in his face, the way his eyes shifted, the way he held himself, trying to seem sure, but looking like a little kid playing grown up. He didn't know that. He didn't know that at all. He thought Murdock would throw him away as everyone else had, his whole life. When his usefulness was gone, he'd be left behind. Only the Team had ever wanted him, stayed with him. And now he had shifted those boundaries, and everything was different and he was lost. Again. Still.
Not fair. Not fair at all, and not right.
Face was good at saving everybody except for himself. He would fight for his team, fight for the wronged, and he was good at winning. Good at saving. Good at setting things right. And yeah, he could con, sure, could con you out of the shirt on your back and you’d never even know you were missing it, you’d be so caught up in the blue of his eyes, the fall of his honey blonde hair.
But saving himself?
That was tough. So hard to see the truth.
Good at getting what he wanted, but not at what he needed. Pretty, leggy blondes would fall for his every line.
Love was a little harder to come by than sex.
Somehow he was always falling, and harbored no hope of a net.
Till Murdock. They had found themselves in each other and it was, god, so easy, that love. Everything they'd been searching for, all the fixes they needed to finally make themselves right, there in front of him.
It was so good. So good. So what was he doing? He felt trapped, but not by Murdock. By himself. He didn't want to go, no way did he want to leave Murdock, the only one who had ever made him feel whole. He'd never been anything much, not really, not much more than a front, not till the team found him. Accepted him. Saved him from himself. They had made him begin to feel real, for the first time. Real. Worth something.
He'd found what he'd needed, all the time needed. A sense of belonging, a sense of who he was, who he really was. Not just a conman, man of many faces, of way too many names. Nope. He was Face, the Faceman, named by them, and by the naming, made real. They not only needed him, they wanted him. They were something special, and he was part of it. It boggled the mind. He was close to all of them, allowed himself to be close to all of them, never quite understanding when or how he’d let some of the walls drop. They had become his family, the one he'd never had, never even presumed to wish for. Hannibal, BA, Murdock.
That had turned into something else entirely. Wow. They had become close, so quickly. They fell and fell hard. And it didn't even hurt. That sidelong glance, with the oh, so cocky grin Murdock would give him. A deliberate wink and suddenly Face knew that he was special. That Murdock somehow saw something in him, saw through the perfect clothes, the perfect features, the perfect Face.
Saw what was real, what was hurt, what was wrong. And didn't shy away.
That wink that said everything, that said we have a secret that we're not telling, don't we? That spoke volumes and made his heart turn a flip, and Face somehow knew that he was falling in love, when he hadn't ever really understood what love even was. But what else could this be, this burning inside, this ever-lit flame, this tilty, whirly feeling that consumed him, till he'd find himself lost once again in that smile, that grin. The one that said I know you better than you'll ever know yourself, Facey, so just give, okay? Give and cry uncle, and guess what? It's me that you'll win.
So he'd fallen. Given up his never-ending spiral, finally let go. Fallen and Murdock had caught him, and god, was it good. Was it ever good.
Now, he stood alone again, where he'd never wanted to be. Realized that he had dropped his eyes, forced himself to raise them, to meet Murdock's eyes, expecting to see rage, rejection, denial. Prepared for that. Ready for that. He'd fucked up, he knew it, and even though he didn't quite know why he had done it (why not? End it, be the cause of it, make it easier, at least then you knew it was coming), there it was. He was wrong and he knew it and he braced himself for what was to come.
So he looked up and saw those eyes. Those damn puppy dog eyes, all eternity in that look, everything there was to be had. Saw how wounded they looked. Such pain. Saw a glimmer of understanding.
The fuck? What was there to understand? Face had cheated and it was over. Murdock was no slut like some of the girls Face had been with. Murdock was everything and so Face was screwed for not being able to live up to that; that trust, that love.
But something was off here. Murdock wasn't leaving, wasn't making Face leave. Wasn't doing anything but looking at him. Waiting. For what?
He jumped as Murdock gently took put his hands on his shoulders. "Face. I'm not going to leave you."
"I know!" He sounded scared, even to himself.
"You don't. I'm not going to leave you, and I'm not going to let you leave me." A pause, then dryly, "Or let you drive me away. I'm just not. Do you get that?"
"Yes." A pause. "No." He felt himself shaking, saw Murdock's hands drop down to his waist, but didn't feel them there, even when they held him tight. Saw the hurt tinged with understanding in Murdock's eyes, and wondered at it again. Tried to speak. Couldn't. Lost in those eyes. Those brown eyes that never told a lie, couldn't tell a lie.
"You are one lost little soul, Face. I get that. What you did... I'm not even sure you know what it is you've done to me in the past week." (dealing with shifting eyes, desperate, changed kisses) "But it's too late. There's a piece of me in you. I need that. I need you."
Face let his eyes shift slightly away.
"Face. " Murdock's voice had sharpened. Face's eyes were drawn back. "I need you." His voice was fierce now. His eyes piercing, seeing to Face's very soul. Seemed to unearth stuff even Face himself didn't know about.
The world fell away and Face couldn't tear himself away from those eyes that he loved so much. That soul that he loved so much. He looked again at those eyes, those guileless eyes, looked closely this time and didn't get lost. Just looked into those too-honest eyes. Saw love. Still love. Always love. No lies there. This was honest territory, no treachery, no tricks, no dragons to hide from. Just love. That's all there was. What was he hiding from?
How fucked up was he, really?
What was he holding onto here?
God. There was love there, real, true love. Murdock, silent, just held the gaze, forced Face to hold it, till he saw, really saw. Love. Hurt and pain and all manner of things, but all of it was based in real, true love. Murdock loved Face. He loved him.
And Face gave.
He gave in, gave it all, the walls fell, and he gave. Gave in, and stepped forward, let Murdock hold him.
Murdock brought them both a few steps back toward the couch and lowered them down, Face in his arms.
He kept his arms tight around Face, tight till they ached. Felt Face shuddering against him. Felt protective. Felt fiece. Clutched Face to him, shouldered aside his own hurt. Buried his lips within Face's soft, thick hair, murmured, "I'm not letting you go, Face. I'm not letting you go. Stop fighting, I'm not letting you go."
Face pressed his face harder into Murdock's chest. Murdock murmured over and over again, almost a lullaby, "Not letting you go. Not letting you go." Finally ran a hand through Face's tangled hair, and Face brought his head slowly up to look at Murdock. Murdock looked back and said, "Nope. Not ever. Get used to it. But...don't do it again, Face. Just don't. You could break me, you know? I'm not the strongest of sorts. And don't try to fool me, Face. Don't turn the con on me. You can't."
Face's cheeks looked hot and he just looked at him. "So you'll keep me, even after everything I did?"
A slow steady nod from Murdock. A tightening of his arms around Face.
Face breathed out slowly. "I'm going to need help. I don't want to do this to you again. Never want to try conning you again. It hurt. It really hurt." He paused. "God, I love you." His hands were shaking, but his voice was steady. "What did I do to deserve you?"
Murdock's body shook with silent laughter. "Oh, Facey, we deserve each other. I don't know how else I'd ever feel whole." He gathered Face in his arms and hugged him strongly, tight as he could. Face returned the embrace and raised his face for a kiss. Murdock bent and pressed his lips against Face's, felt their burning heat, got lost in the ease of the kiss, how well he knew that kiss. Released Face's lips and pulled him close, held him lying against his chest on the couch.
Felt Face's heart beating strong against his own. His blood felt hot. Was he giving in too easy? Too quick? Face meant what he said now, really meant it. Did that mean he could keep to it? Learn? Change? Always questions, always in this ever-changing relationship. It was change that frightened Face so much, and it was change that Face was going to have to learn.
Was it worth it?
He looked down at the still form in his arms. Face, exhausted, lay very still, breathing steady, almost asleep. Giving himself over to the safety of Murdock's strong arms.
Yeah. It was worth it. Worth the risk, worth the fall. If he'd wanted perfect, he'd have fallen in love with the conman, the smooth operator Face showed to most people. But Murdock has fallen in love with the man, the soul, behind all the cons. Not perfect, but trying to be real. He was willing to see where they ended up.
For now, he had that strong and steady heart beating against his own. As long as he had that heart, there was a chance. Face had given over a lot tonight. It didn't make up for what he had done, no. And it wasn't too easy, not easy at all, really, for the two of them. So much to come to grips with, so much change, for the two of them. Change wasn't something that came easy for either of them. And no matter how easy their love was, how real, how true, there were always going to be things, problems, that they would have to fight their way through. Murdock was willing to fight.
Face shifted slightly in his arms, relaxing more fully against Murdock. Murdock slid down on the couch and Face's body pressed against his own. All was quiet around them, and Murdock could feel the beating of Face's heart. This was something he could work with. He sighed, looking down at that too-pretty face, so pretty it hurt to look at sometimes. He felt tears building up and he let them fall, tried to leach out some of the hurt, tried to keep his heart from jolting at the thought of Face with someone else. So much to come to terms with. But there was time.
There was time for two of them. He lay his head back against the couch, let himself breathe slow and careful, felt the warmth of Face's body against his own. Felt once again the beating of that heart. That was something. That was enough. For now, that was enough.
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