by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)
An after-mission slashy vignette.
It had been a long day.
One of those days where all you can do is just keep going, keep moving, because if you stopped, for even an instant, you were going to collapse and never, ever get up. Sleep for a century, and even that wouldn't be enough.
Murdock felt like he'd been moving, constantly moving, for days. Well, he had, actually. Days and days. The assignment had started calmly enough, protecting a wife about to turn state's evidence against her crooked politician husband.
Turned ugly, and the team had been sleeping in shifts, trying to defend the house, keep the wife and the kids safe long enough for the wife to get to court. Constantly moving, constantly on guard, lives at stake if they faltered for even an instant.
They'd slept in shifts, and each time Murdock came back to the safe room, trembling from exhaustion and wired from being on absolute guard, he'd collapse into this frenzied sort of sleep, knowing it would be way too short, go by way too fast, and that he should fall asleep *now*. His body would be too exhausted, and too well trained, to stay awake, but his sleep was anything but restful, like electricity was constantly buzzing through his head, and he'd wake up feeling like a junkie late for his hit.
Fun and games.
The rest of the team was stumbling, too, tired, real tired. They'd received a much-needed boost of adrenaline, when the guy finally made his try at the family. But they'd got him good and proper, enough evidence from just this attack to put him away for a long time, not to mention the dirt the wife had on him. They'd caught him, easy. Their pent-up energy was begging to be released by the time the guy finally showed. They delivered him to the cops and got out of there real fast, screeching away in the van, all happy to have won the day once again, but perhaps even happier to be done with it all, for now.
In the van on the way back to the city, Murdock was jittery, annoying, couldn't let go of the adrenaline, strung out. So tired, too tired to *be* tired, if that made any sense at all. Could do this short term, did this short term all the time, but two solid weeks was enough to fuck with his system, big time.
Finally, Face had shoved a comic book at him, hissed at him to just shut up, just for a while, if only to allow BA some time to cool off. As it was, BA was dividing attention between the road and the rear view mirror, glaring at Murdock, shaking his head and muttering to himself. The big guy wasn't at his best either, tired and forcing himself to stay alert, to get them home in one piece. Refused to let any of them drive his van, knowing that he could get them home the fastest.
Murdock was making a valiant effort to be calm, but to no avail. He'd been looking at the same panel for several minutes and he still couldn't figure out what was going on. He sighed and dropped it to his lap. Heard the low growl coming from the front seat, and tapped gently on the back of BA's chair, not enough to annoy him, but enough so the big guy would know that he'd taken the hint. He tilted his head back against the seat, the angry headache that had been brewing for several days suddenly coming to the forefront. He felt slightly dizzy, from the sleepiness, and he knew that if he looked, his hands would be shaking. Shook his head back and forth, trying to clear the cobwebs if only enough to rest, if not sleep.
Sometimes it was too much. This running around, for so many years. It never ended, not really. They all had their downtime, but there'd been less and less of that of late, and it was wearing them down. All of them. Murdock sighed and rubbed his eyes again. He wanted to lie down. He wanted a bed. Desperately. A bed, for more than two hours. Dear lord, he could almost weep from the wanting.
Not long now. He bit his tongue to keep from asking "are we there yet?," shut his eyes tight, and just tried to breathe for a while, focusing on home.
Then Face was shaking him, kind of hard, so he knew he'd been resisting the call of awareness. Opened his eyes to darkness, inside the van and outside the open door. He hadn't been asleep, not really, just closed off from it all, outside systems shut down and curled up inside himself. But still hyper-aware, nerves edgy enough to not allow him any real rest.
Now he stumbled blearily to his feet, used his hand on Face's shoulder to keep his balance as they exited the van.
"Check in. 9 AM, 9 PM." Hannibal's voice was steady but you could still hear the exhaustion. "I think we're okay for a couple of weeks. Need some R and R."
Face looked at him incredulously. Rest, sure, but recreation? Like they had any energy for anything at all but sleep. Just sleep. Just deep, unconscious, dead-to-the-world sleep. Hannibal nodded at him. Murdock tugged at his arm, pulling him towards the house. Murdock's eyes were barely half-open, and Face knew he wasn't actually awake, just moving from sheer need to get to an actual bed. He allowed himself to be tugged in the right direction, with a weary wave behind him to the van as it peeled off.
Murdock stumbled more than once on the short way to the front door, and Face kept him moving, holding on to him. Got him to the door, where Murdock propped himself up, forehead against the wall, eyes closed, while Face unlocked the door and then guided him in.
Face was tired, so tired, too tired himself. Hadn't been a hard job; were they getting soft? No, it was just a long job, and they weren't used to that. The long, late hours, with little rest in between; the weariness just became a part of you, till you never remembered being rested, not ever. He locked up behind, looked over to where Murdock had collapsed on the couch, long legs sprawled out in front of him, slouched way, way down, head back, eyes closed. His face was pasty white, exhausted and wrung out. Face worried about him. He was pretty shaky himself, but Murdock, out of his element when not at the VA, maybe out of whack with his meds. . .Face just couldn't help but worry.
He walked slowly over to the couch. "Hey."
Murdock cracked open one eye and looked up at him. "Facey, I ain't never gonna let you break me out of the VA again, if this is how you treat me. No way."
Face gave him a mock pout, best he could do through his weariness, then reached out a hand to him. From his vantage point on the couch, Murdock regarded the outstretched hand wearily. "Can't I just stay here? The bedroom's so damn far away."
Face kept his hand stretched out, mildly interested to notice that it was shaking. "I offer to share my bed with you and you refuse me? I'm injured, nay, wounded." Tone wasn't doing much, but he wanted to tease. Felt like teasing, just to get each other back on solid ground. Alone together, it sometimes felt like they were finally entering the real world, escaping all of the melancholy badness of the interfering outside world.
A grin crept up Murdock's face. He accepted Face's hand, and Face managed to pull him up without staggering. Standing a bit closer than necessary, letting Face support some of his weight on his shoulder, Murdock drawled, "Well, now, honey, we can't let our Faceman sleep on his lonesome even for one night, now, can we? Not when there's a willing partner to keep away the night."
"That's right," Face responded, keeping his expression serious. "One of the number one rules around here."
"Well, now." Murdock yawned hugely and shook his head, trying to get some more energy, just to make it to the bedroom. "I'm a rule-followin' kind of guy."
Face tried to resist the impulse but ended up yawning back anyway, just as Murdock, apparently slightly revived, caught him off guard and scooped him up into his arms. "Now, just where is the damn bedroom in this place, anyway?"
Face's laughter was mildly out of proportion, but he was so tired that this seemed like the funniest thing, ever. He kept laughing, gesturing wordlessly toward the back of the apartment, and with a smart nod, Murdock headed back, arms still full of a sleepy, giddy Face. Strong arms. Safe arms. Murdock was tired but steady, and Face knew he would never let him fall. Guided them carefully down the hall, Face never even coming close to bumping the wall.
Got to the big bed (Face's beds were always big, whether he planned to be sharing them or not. He wasn't generally a sound sleeper, and needed all the room he could get). Placed Face down real gentle, then proceeded to strip his clothes off quickly and efficiently.
"What are you doing? You were about passed out there, and now you're full of energy?" Face yawned again, and this time Murdock got caught in it and yawned back.
"I'm not full of energy, I'm full of pseudo-energy, it's gonna fademomentarily, and I'm takin' advantage of it while I can." He stripped himselfjust as efficiently, and within moments, Face found himself tucked in warmunder the comforter, naked and close to an equally naked Murdock. Lying down,the room dark, whatever pretense they had had of being awake quickly faded.
Face was blinking heavily in the dimness, turning to meet Murdock's eyes as Murdock pulled him close, kissing him soundly, then turning him round so he could spoon with him under the comforter. "Just wanted to make sure we got to this point before collapsing," he murmured. "Been looking forward to this for days. Just want to go to sleep with an armful of you, 'kay, sweetie?"
His words were full of softness and night, and they were hazy and slurred as he slid towards sleep. Face murmured his assent, and pressed back against him, loving the feel of Murdock's warm arm slung loosely over him. He let himself go, relax, not fighting against the tide of sleep for the first time in days.
Safe and easy, and nothing to fight against. His tired mind was wound up, still, but finally slowing down. He was dizzy with weariness, he was pinned down by Murdock's arm over him, he was warm and comfortable and safe, and he honestly couldn't imagine anything in life better than this.
Nope, not one damn thing.
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