by brooklinegirl (witchbaby)
Potential for disaster was in the air.
It was palpable, almost, from the tension that was radiating from Murdock. Or rather, that would have been radiating, if he had been anywhere in sight. Which he wasn't, and hadn't been for more than a moment or two on this entire mission. He was constantly popping in and out of rooms, reporting information, then disappearing again. Lame excuses: going to check on Billy, going to make sure the van was still where they left it, checking the perimeter again…and again…and again. Even though the mission was now over and there was nothing there to check.
Face sighed. But when he went to seek out Murdock, went to the van, or to the perimeter, or anywhere near him, Murdock would meet his seeking eyes with an almost startled look and a half smile, then slip away quick. Man, he could move fast when he wanted to. No way Face would be able to catch him without giving a very undignified chase, which he was not about to do.
It was getting more than a little annoying. And, perhaps, worrisome. And odd. Not an unusual combination of symptoms, but one he was usually able to chalk up to whatever psychosis Murdock was harboring that week. This, though . . . this was different. He was actively avoiding Face. . . something he'd never done. They always sought comfort in each other's company, easily, even before they became . . .involved.
Face sighed once more and decided to try once again, striding over to the van. He slid the door open quick, and Murdock jumped, like he'd been caught at something. But Face had seen, he'd just been sitting in the van, in his usual seat, head in his hands, the moment Face opened the door. Face cocked at eyebrow at Murdock's startled expression.
"Hey, there, Face, I was just, ah, on my way to tell BA that-"
"No, you weren't." Face jumped in and sat, pulling the door shut behind him. Murdock sat uneasily on the edge of his seat, looking at Face but not quite making eye contact.
"O-kay . . .then what was I doing?" His tone was light, but forced to be that way . . .none of the usual easy swing to it.
Face leaned back in the seat, stretched out lazy-like. "You were going to sit right there, and talk to me."
"I was?" Murdock's mouth turned up in a grin, but it didn't quite make it to his eyes.
Face let his gaze rest on Murdock's face. He had this ability, a good trait for a conman, where he was could make you meet his eyes. Force of will, his distractingly blue eyes, intensity . . . something, but it worked. When he leveled his gaze at you, you met it, whether you meant to or not. Gaze like that could capture and keep, could drown you without even trying. Turn you inside out and examine your mind, find out what you wanted, what you needed, and how to use that, for you or against you.
And Murdock got caught, was looking into the blue of Face's eyes for several seconds before he even realized that he was doing so. Dammit. He was usually better than that. Often, when Face did make the attempt to catch him, Murdock could meet his gaze, steady and easy and showing the depth only of whatever he was playing at, at the time. He was good at hiding, when he wanted to, didn't have to even try at it. But he was spiraling here, and got caught.
Face's eyes held him, though, and he couldn't tear away, even when he realized it. The pretty conman just sat there, seeming calm, waiting. But tense. Murdock could see the tension in his carefully held body, feel the tension in the air. He wanted to run, to escape it. But he'd gotten trapped too easy, this time, and he was stuck.
Well, two could play at this game. He was no conman, but he was good in his own right. He leaned back into his seat, matching Face's pose. Carefully met Face's eyes. Knew Face would be able to see the veiling therein, but what good was a conman who couldn't see past veils? Let him try.
They sat that way, silent, for several minutes. Face was the one who broke the silence, but he did it easily, like he meant to, like he hadn't been waiting for Murdock to speak first. "Hannibal's wrapping things up with the family."
Murdock nodded, eyeing Face cautiously.
"The dad was career military. They're talking shop." He paused, looked deliberately over at Murdock. "And BA's repairing their truck. He's got the whole engine block taken apart. He's in his glory." Again the pause, the look. "We're not going anywhere for a while."
Murdock's gaze flickered. Trapped for sure. And he knew it.
He stayed silent, watching Face's outwardly casual posture. Got distracted for a second, tracing over that body with his eyes. Face, in his soft blue jeans, nice button down shirt tucked in neatly, every hair in place, cute, so cute, he could just imagine the feel of the warm skin beneath his fingers. They could be putting this time to good use. Nothing like the feel of those arms around him to make time go by fast, though BA had said he'd kill the both of them if he caught them making out in the back of his van one more time. If it weren't for those piercing eyes, trying so hard for casual and concerned. Would have worked for almost anybody, but all Murdock could see was how confused, and ever so slightly hurt they were.
Face shifted slightly in his seat, then gave up the pose, sat up and leaned closer, glancing out the front windshield to make sure they weren't being observed before reaching out to trace a careful finger down Murdock's arm, studying him intently with careful eyes. "If you weren't so busy running away from me, we could have some, ah, quiet time." Murdock's eyes watched Face's finger work its way to his wrist, looping under to caress the soft skin below.
Face's voice was very soft as he said, "After all, it is Valenti-" He broke off as Murdock abruptly pulled his arm away and started speaking really quick.
"Yeah, well, you know how it is, Billy's always running away and I gotta go chase after him, just where did he go, now?" He looked around and then shrugged, giving Face a meaningless smile. "I should go look for him, don't want him bothering BA while he's working, you know how he gets about Billy."
He jumped up, leaning forward across Face to try to open the door and escape. Face's eyes had darkened as Murdock started chatting crazily, and as he reached across, Face grabbed his arm and pushed him back firmly into the seat.
"Murdock, quit it. Just . . . stop it, okay? It's me, here, and if you don't stop running, I'm going to-well, I don't want to hurt you, but I will." He gave Murdock a weak smile, to show he was joking. "Wouldn't it be easier to just tell me what the problem is? You must be tired from all the running."
Murdock was sitting back in his seat with his arms crossed across his chest. He gave Face a measuring look from under the brim of his cap.
Face waited a moment. "Well, look, it's obviously something to do with me. And," He paused again, a realization hitting him. "It's Valentine's Day. That have something to do with it?"
Murdock's gaze changed to almost a glare. Reflex, Face recognized. Hiding something. Anger was sometimes better than hurt. Maybe always better than hurt. Covered up a whole hell of a lot more, and if you ended up getting hurt, rejected anyway, you could at least say it's what you wanted. That the anger was justified. That any wrong done to you was no surprise, no more than expected, and that vindicated you for your righteous indignation.
He did it himself. Often. Hid it better, though. Was either put-out and whiny, or suave and uncaring. Cold layer of anger on the inside, though, maybe covering a core of hurt feelings. Smooth exterior, carefully careless features that hid a lot. Murdock wasn't as good at this as he was, and his anger came through in a heat of rage, unwarranted, but clear.
Murdock sat brewing in his anger for a while longer, while Face waiting patiently for an explanation. Finally, Murdock burst out, "What would you know about it, anyway? What's Valentine's Day to you?"
"Wh-aa-t?" Face's response was drawn out and puzzled.
Murdock's tone turned sullen. "It doesn't mean anything, anyway."
Honestly confused, Face looked at Murdock, head tilted to one side, trying to understand.
Exasperated, finally, Murdock blew his breath out. Closed his eyes for a second, then opened them and glared at Face. "How many valentines have you had, anyway?"
"Murdock, I have no clue what you're talking about. I'm not trying to be dense, but could you be a little less vague?"
"You-you've got-well, HAD-a different girl for every month of the year. How many are pining away for Templeton Peck's valentine, hoping to be chosen this year?"
"Murdock," Face said cautiously. "Um, I'm with you now. You remember? We're in love, and we even told the guys, and it's all good, right?" What the fuck was going on?
"Yeah, but how many women have you done this with?"
"What does it even matter?"
"It matters. How many?"
"I don't remember." Now Face's tone was guarded. What was Murdock looking for, here?
"Of course you don't. How could you?" Sarcasm took over Murdock's tone, tinged with a certain amount of hurt.
"How could I . . . Murdock, what is this all about?"
"I just want to know." Murdock's voice was tight as he enunciated each word carefully.
"I don't remember." Face answered in kind, matching the enunciation.
"Try." This through clenched teeth.
Face looked helplessly at Murdock, somehow angry, but not meaning to be, just matching Murdock's anger through osmosis somehow. Murdock's flat gaze was unnerving, and Face's eyes skidded away, looking at the ceiling, out the windshield, at the floor, anywhere but at Murdock, who just waiting, clenched, silent, still so angry.
Finally, Face sat back in his seat, defeated. "How many, huh?"
Murdock nodded tightly, still waiting.
"Well. Um. Okay. None."
"Nice, Face, good to . . . wha--??" Murdock's eyebrows scrunched down as he tried to comprehend the unexpected answer.
Now it was Face's turn to close his eyes for a second. "None. Okay?" He opened his eyes, struggling for calm, now. "What does it matter? I'm with you, now, and we're okay, right? More than okay, I thought."
Murdock's tone was still confused. His anger had been totally derailed by Face's admission. And every reading he got from him indicated that he was telling the truth. "We are okay. Usually. I think we're okay. It's just not always easy. You-sometimes, it's a little much for me to live up to. Your past, I mean."
"I never ask you to live up to it. There's nothing to live up to. They weren't anything at all, compared to what we have. Compared to how much I love you. And I do love you. Nothing I'd want you to live up to. You're it."
"I know. I mean, I guess I know that. I mean-I'm sorry, Face, but what do you mean, none?"
"I mean, none. That's it. I've never actually spent Valentine's with anyone."
"How is that even possible?"
"There's never been anyone I wanted to spend it with . . .anyone special, really."
Murdock's face was wholly puzzled. "But you always . . . always . . . had someone."
Face sighed and leaned his head back. This was not going to be good. He'd given Murdock the right answer, and he was actually telling the truth. But still-this wasn't going to be good. "Yes. I did." He looked over at Murdock, who was finally meeting his eyes. "I don't like being alone."
"I know." Somehow, Murdock's hand stole over to rest comfortingly on Face's knee. Unconsciously, Face covered it with his own, and Murdock let him.
"But, well . . . " Oh, there was just no way to make this sound good. Might as well be as honest as possible. Couldn't make things any worse than they already were . . . or were going to be. "If you're looking for a "good" time to do it, there are three perfect days to break up with someone."
"Okay . . . " Murdock's face was warily fascinated.
Face sighed and rubbed his eyes, trying to erase the headache rapidly building there. Dropped his hands to his lap and looked at the floor in front of Murdock's feet. "December 24th. February 13th. And the day before their birthday."
Murdock sometimes forgot Face's ability for coldness. "Wow. That's . . . wow."
"I know. I know. It's not as bad as it sounds." Face sighed. "Okay, maybe it is as bad as it sounds, but listen."
Murdock was looking at him, shaking his head.
"Just listen, will you? I . . . you know this, I've never been serious about anyone. They were all just there, you know? Someone to be with. Those things: Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's . . . that stuff always . . . well, I kind of see it as meaningful. I was raised in a place where those things were celebrated just because they were supposed to be, just because I was there and the people in charge were expected to provide them for me, even if they didn't really care. I just . . . I can't bring myself to do that. You know? Do something halfway? Do it because I'm supposed to, not because I really want to?
What's the point in that?"
Murdock was now looking at him, resting his chin on his hand, those too-dark eyes looking almost through him. Slowly, he said, "So, you'd avoid the special days."
"Easier that way."
"Break up with anyone you happened to be with. People you were dating just to keep from being alone."
"I don't get it."
"I know. It's complicated." Face, slouched in his seat, looked up, met Murdock's eyes. Narrowed his own eyes. "You know, this doesn't answer my question. Why've you been running from me?"
Murdock attempted a smile. "Me? Running?"
Face leveled a look at him. "You. Running. You haven't let me get alone with you in days."
"It's just . . . I don't like Valentine's Day." He looked over at Face. "And I guess I just thought . . . just assumed . . . that you'd, well, I don't know, maybe just play the same-old, same-old valentine with me. I don't want that. Don't want to be just another valentine for Templeton Peck." He sighed, sat forward in his seat, reached out to take Face's hands. "Kinda didn't want to give you a chance to do it. You know, flowers, candy, hearts." He looked at Face. "I don't like us being forced to prove anything."
Face eyed him quizzically.
"We love each other. I don't want to be treated like the Hallmark cards say. That's, I don't know, that's just annoying."
"I don't get it."
Murdock's eyes crinkled in a smile. "I know. It's complicated."
"It's never easy, is it?" Face's voice was full of amusement, at himself, at the two of them, running from invisible demons.
"Well, I don't know, it's sometimes easy." Murdock's voice was teasing now, and the look he gave Face sent shivers up his spine.
Face let his eyes travel over Murdock's body. This time, though, it was Murdock who leaned forward to touch Face. Let his long fingered hand make its gentle way up Face's thigh. Face smiled, but pinned Murdock's hand down.
"Don't try to distract me."
"I'm not trying to distract you." But Murdock's voice was hushed, and he cast a glance out the windshield, quickly scanning for anyone around, before shifting forward till his legs were entwined with Face's, hands now skimming slowly over both of Face's thighs, gently stroking.
"Well, am I?" This, as he leaned in, brushing Face's lips with his own. "Is that distracting?" Now he paused, looked deep into Face's eyes for a moment, before leaning ever so slowly in and deliberately sucking on the crook of Face's neck. Released it slowly, leaving behind a faint mark. "Mmmm, maybe you're right, this does seem a little bit off-topic."
Face was trying to hold onto his control, but it wasn't an easy task. "Murdock. . . " His admonition came out as little more than a murmur.
"Yeah?" Murdock responded, just before pressing his lips to Face's. He kissed him slowly, drawing on the lips themselves, tasting them, licking, sucking. He traced his way with his tongue, along Face's top lip, then the full bottom one, teasing.
He hadn't meant to cause pain by avoiding Face. All he'd wanted was to avoid pain for himself. Didn't want to be set up for the fall. Didn't like Valentine's to begin with, didn't want to force anything on Face.
He pulled back just a bit, till he could see Face. Face had his eyes closed and his cheeks were nicely flushed, lips were slightly parted. Murdock waited till he opened his eyes to see why Murdock had stopped before he kissed him again, delving into Face's mouth with his tongue, drawing him closer in his arms, the kiss getting ever deeper, melting the two of them together.
When he released him, they were both breathless. Murdock brought a hand up to trace Face's moist lips gently, was surprised to find his hand trembling in reaction to the kiss. He said softly, "You're not gonna do things halfway with me, are you? I mean, it's already February 14th. So I guess I'm solid for Valentines." He brought his lips close to Face's ear. "Do I have to live in fear of the day before my birthday?" He waited, tone teasing, but a seriousness in his heart.
Face's response was immediate, voice firm in Murdock's ear. "You don't have to worry. I only want to be with you, nobody else but you. Valentine's, birthday, Christmas. Just you." A pause, and Murdock could almost feel the curve of Face's smile against his cheek. "Right now, even. And I'm not going to do you, ah, halfway." Murdock's breath sped up as Face captured his earlobe in his hot mouth, sucked gently. Felt Face's fingers make their way to his hip, then down to his thigh, then edging around to the front of his pants. Stroked him through the pants, making him even harder than he already was.
"Mmmmm . . . glad to hear that, Face." Murdock pressed closer, turning to kiss Face, hard, once more. "Just . . . needed to know. Need to hear it said, sometimes. That I'm not just . . . " He paused, not wanting to say the words.
"You're not "just" anything, Murdock." Face kissed him gently, pulled back to look at him. "Trust me on that?" Questioning.
"Yeah, Facey. I trust you." Another glance out the windshield, then with a tilt of his head, Murdock indicated the back of the van. "Think we have time to, uh . . . ?" To hasten the decision, Murdock reached forward, dipped his hand down the back of Face's pants, managing to just brush the spot at the base of his spine, that interesting spot that drove him wild. Face wiggled against his hand as it just teased him there, sending a jolt of heat through his body.
"Yeah, let's just do that, shall we?"
"'kay, Face." Grinning, Murdock leaned in for a deep kiss, hands on Face's waist, pulling him close. He'd started to pull him forward, urging him towards the back, when the side door suddenly opened behind Face. They broke the kiss hastily, and Murdock withdrew quickly to his side of the van as BA's angry visage, not to mention fists, filled the doorway. They both yelped as BA grabbed hold of each of them, yanked them towards the door.
He pulled the two of them out of the van and planted himself in front of them. "What did I tell you I'd do, I catch you carrying on in my van again?"
"Now, listen, BA, we weren't, well, that is, we were, but there's a reason, I mean . . . " Face was stumbling for words, and BA growled and cocked a fist. "Wait, wait, I can explain . . . "
"Don't need no more explanations from you."
"Murdock? Help me out on this one."
"BA, now, listen, we weren't . . . "
"Shut up, crazy man. You were. You two are like teenagers." The big man shook his head. "Faceman, you as crazy as he is. You deserve each other." A small smile seemed to peek through, and Face, catching it, slid his conman's grin smoothly on and started to say, "You see, BA . . ." before he was cut off.
"You deserve each other . . . but not in my van, you hear me?"
Face and Murdock exchanged a quick look, then nodded quickly at BA, way too innocent crocodile grins across both their faces.
BA looked carefully between the two of them before giving a nod and a glare and turning away. He turned back quick and caught them, Murdock already pulling Face to him, his hand on the small of his back. He growled and they quickly jumped apart, guilty but still grinning. He sighed and threw his hands up in the air, stomping away, smiling as soon as his back was turned. Those two did deserve each other. Uncontrollable, both of them, and driving him nuts. But they sure kept each other busy.
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