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The Little Orphan Boy
Summary: Face tells Murdock a story.
Warning: Slash, mention of violence to adults and minor, extreme sappiness.
Author's note: just a quick little story I wrote while experiencing writer's block on another.
Comments: Yes please!
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I should, though. (I read this on someone else's fanfic, and I love it. Apologies to whoever I stole this disclaimer from.)
Thanks to everyone who sent encouragement, especially those at the VA.
* * * * *
Face gently shut the door behind him, as if he might disturb the figure on the bed in front of him. He tiptoed over to the side of the bed, and picked up the hand he had been holding a few minutes before, left exactly where he had dropped it.
"Murdock? That was Hannibal." There was no response. Even if Murdock had been able to hear him, the tube forced down his throat would have prevented him from answering. Face was over the sight now, but he still remembered vividly the horror he had felt the first time he saw Murdock in hospital. All those tubes, and bleeping machines…how could anyone attached to that much equipment really still be alive?
"Hannibal says he and B.A. have left Decker high and dry in Arizona. They should get here sometime tomorrow, but they'll have to leave in the evening. It'd be too suspicious having all of us here at the same time." It made Face feel a little better talking aloud to Murdock, like he was just asleep. He always felt better putting his thoughts into words, felt more comfortable with words than thoughts somehow.
"Richter's still keeping quiet about this, but I don't know how much longer I can stay. The Army could come visiting at any moment. I'll be here as long as I can, though." Face recalled Richter's expression when he had turned up in the ambulance at the VA. He had been about to tell him off for stealing his patient, when he caught sight of Murdock…
No. Focus on the here and now.
"So, where were we? Oh yeah, I was just about to read you a story." Face picked up the fairytale book from where he had left it when he went to answer the call; turned to the page he had been at. He peered at Murdock over the top of the book. Maybe Cinderella wasn't such a good story after all; he sure didn't look like a fairy prince (or princess).
"Y'know what? I don't really like Cinderella. I mean, who believes in all that fairytale crap anyway, right?" He grinned. "I'll tell you a different story. But be nice, okay? I'm telling this one from memory."
"Once upon a time there was a little orphan boy. This little boy was very sad. He didn't remember who his parents were, or how they'd died, and felt very lonely. He lived in an orphanage, and though everyone there was very nice to him, he wanted a real family.
"This little boy was not cute, or clever, or charming. He wore glasses and braces – y'know, the kind of things adults make you wear so you'll be gorgeous when you grow up. He was also a little plump, only puppy fat. But still, a little plump.
"Now, in these days the orphanages were still quite primitive. They used to line up all the children, and the prospective parents would walk up and down the line and pick two or three children they'd like to talk to a bit more. The little orphan boy was never picked to be spoken to. Nobody wanted him. All he heard, day in, day out, was "No." "Not this one."
"The little orphan boy learned that there was no point making friends, as anyone he made friends with seemed to get adopted soon after. He also learned that his teachers were no help – if he wasn't adopted, they said, it was the will of God. He realised that until he found a family he could only rely on himself.
"One day a couple did pick him out to speak to him. But it turned out that because of the glasses and braces they had thought he was some sort of genius. He wasn't stupid, but he definitely wasn't a genius, of any sort. So they didn't take him home with them.
"The little orphan boy decided that he wanted to be picked, and that he had to do something to make himself stand out a little more. He still believed that if a couple took him home and got to know him, they would want to adopt him. So he stayed up all night, and spent all his free time on learning. He learnt as much history, geography, and literature as he could, until he really was smart. But his real passion was mathematics. He worked hard on his tables, moved onto geometry and trigonometry, until he really was a mathematical genius.
"But still the couples passed him over. Sure, they might linger a little longer over him, but still no one picked him. So he decided that what he really needed was to stand out – to be able to interest prospective parents. He worked hard on listening, and charming people with words, until he could talk the hind leg off a donkey, as one of the teachers said.
"By the age of nine he was smart and charming. He was still ugly, but he had lost his puppy fat and the doctors said that by the time he was a teenager he would be able to lose the glasses and braces. He was very excited, and the next time a couple came to see them he spoke to them. They were immediately charmed (especially when they heard he would lose the braces) and agreed to take him home with them for a couple of days."
Face took a sip of water to clear his throat and steadied his voice. He really hated this part of the story.
"The family and the house seemed really nice on the first day. Everything was clean and quiet – they had no other children. The little orphan boy was as good as gold, and twice as charming, and when he went to bed that night he felt that he had found his family after all. But the father of the family was an alcoholic. In the middle of the night, he burst into the little boy's room looking for some whisky he thought he had hidden there. When he couldn't find it, he caught sight of the little orphan boy. He accused him of drinking it, and began to beat him, trying to make him tell him where it was. All the little orphan boy's charm, and intelligence didn't help, and he woke up in hospital the next morning.
"The father of the orphanage told the little orphan boy that the family were going to prison, and that he would never have to see them again. But the boy had learned that even families were not to be trusted, and that he could only rely on himself. He was never adopted again."
Face was silent for a few moments, trying to gather his thoughts. He had never told this story before, and that fact in itself was part of the story.
"Eventually the little orphan boy grew up. He lost his glasses and braces, and became a very handsome young man. He was still clever and charming, and so he managed to get a scholarship to a very good university. However, he still knew that people couldn't be trusted, and he didn't really make any friends there. He socialised a lot, though; because of his looks, women were attracted to him. He had a good time, but he didn't have any lasting relationships.
"One day the little orphan boy met a young woman called Leslie. He liked her a lot, but because of what had happened to him in the past, he didn't really trust her. She was good and pure, though, and in time, he fell in love with her. She treated him well, and he started to trust her. One evening he bought a ring, and made up his mind to propose to her. He was sure that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He went to pick her up, to take her out to dinner, but her roommate met him instead, and told him she didn't wanted to see him any more. He was heartbroken, especially after she disappeared a couple of days later. He felt utterly betrayed, and realised that all the pain he felt came from the fact that he had relied on another person. He would not make that mistake again.
"The little orphan boy decided that he couldn't stay at university – too many painful memories. Instead, he decided that if he couldn't rely on anyone else, at least he could rely on his country. He had no real skills, and no desire to stay in America. He heard that there was a war in Vietnam, so he managed to con his way into the Army, even though he was too young.
"He was a good soldier, but he got a reputation for being a little strange, because he would always double check anything anyone else had done. He didn't trust anyone. The little orphan boy could never be promoted, because he didn't trust the men who would take orders from him.
"One day the little orphan boy was asked to change units again. He didn't mind – he had lost all interest in life anyway. He firmly believed that the sooner he died, the better. However, the team he was transferred to wouldn't let him die. There was the strong commander, eyes like steel and a cold expression to match. The little orphan boy looked up to him, even though he didn't trust him. Then there was the giant sergeant. An expression like he hated everything and everyone, he was still a good person, and the boy liked him. But he was always a little scared of him. The boy managed to charm them both enough so that they didn't try to interfere with his life too much, but he knew that the colonel wanted to promote him.
"One day the colonel brought a new member into the team. A pilot, with a crazy light in his eyes and a lopsided grin. The little orphan boy tried to charm him, but found that it didn't work. It was impossible to charm someone who said things like that motor oil would make a good mouthwash. The little orphan boy was scared of this new man – he felt like he could see deep into his soul and everything that was hidden there. He was afraid that he was going to end up trusting the man.
"One day a mission went wrong. The four of them were captured and taken to a prison camp. The little orphan was very scared – the guards there used to beat and starve people, and torture was a regular occurrence. Every day someone would be dragged away to the building on the other side of the camp, brought back beaten and bloody. But his friends were not scared. The commander would hatch insane schemes for escaping the camps. The sergeant would sing low songs, the rest of them joining in in harmony. The pilot told them all crazy stories and jokes, made them laugh.
"The little orphan began to rely on the pilot, even though he didn't want to. He would often have flashbacks to the time he was beaten as a child, and then the pilot would rock him to sleep. He sang to him when he was down, fed him when he got sick, stitched him up when he was beaten by some overeager guard. The little orphan boy and the pilot developed a strong friendship."
Face stopped, tears in his eyes, and took another sip of water.
"But one day the guards took the pilot away to the building on the other side of the camp. The little orphan was very scared, even though he still had the commander and the sergeant to look after him. He stayed up all day, waiting for a sound from the building. But the pilot didn't scream once. Later he told the little orphan that he knew he would be listening, and didn't want to scare him. When they brought him back, he was badly injured, much more than any of the previous victims. The guards had become annoyed when he wouldn't react, and had vented their frustration upon the poor pilot. There was a glazed look in his eyes; he had been affected mentally as well as physically. The roles were now reversed – the little orphan had to take care of the pilot, especially at night when the memories would come."
Face shivered, remembering how Murdock had screamed and kicked in his delusional state.
"The little orphan felt betrayed again. He had relied on the pilot, and now he was being punished for it. He began to feel like he was cursed.
"However, all four of the soldiers managed to survive until the camp was liberated. The pilot was taken away for testing, to see if he was all right mentally. The rest of the team spent a long time in hospital, recovering from their wounds. When they left the little orphan redoubled his efforts to remain calm and aloof, if only for the pilot's sake.
"The doctors said that for the moment the pilot was alright, but that they would re-evaluate him after the next mission. Their next mission turned out to be a set up. Their commanding officer was killed and no one knew about their mission. The three of them were taken to a military prison, while the pilot was institutionalised from a nervous breakdown. The little orphan boy was betrayed once again. He had relied upon his country, and it had turned its back on him. He felt that he should know by now that the only person he could trust was himself.
"The three soldiers escaped from prison. Although the orphan knew that his life would be hard, he knew it would be better than spending 20 years in prison for something he didn't do. He felt he no longer had an obligation to his country.
"The soldiers spent a long time on the run. The little orphan boy was forced to trust the two men for his own safety, but he still didn't let them in on his feelings. He learned to like them, but kept his distance in case they left him like all the others."
Face stopped. Said like that, coldly and clinically, it sounded awful. Why didn't he trust them? They meant everything to him.
"The pilot made a complete recovery, although he stayed in the hospital in case anyone tried to use him to track down his friends. He and the orphan boy became firm friends. But after what had happened in the camps the orphan boy never let himself rely on the man again. Sometimes he wanted to tell him everything, but he knew he had to remain calm and aloof.
"One day the little orphan boy looked into the eyes of his friend, and saw something there he hadn't seen in a long time, not since Leslie. The boy knew he felt it back. It took a long time for them to admit it to each other, but in the end they fell in love."
The tears started to trickle down his cheeks. Face couldn't help it; sitting next to him looking like this made him feel so lost.
"The orphan was still scared he might abandon him, though, so he kept him away. Although they were involved, he never said he loved him, not even when the pilot said it. He kept calm and cold about the relationship, even though he knew it might hurt his lover.
"The pilot was very patient, though, and he loved the little orphan boy unconditionally, even when he hurt him by trying to pretend their relationship was nothing more than a fling.
"One day the team took a mission for a young lady. The pilot was flying the plane with the little orphan boy when they got engine trouble. The pilot gave him the only parachute, and told him to jump, that he could land the plane as long as there was no one else on board. Even then, when the pilot sacrificed himself for him, the little orphan boy could not say he loved him.
"As the orphan jumped he realised that there was no way the pilot could land the plane. He could only watch as it crashed. When he landed he managed to pull the brave pilot from the wreckage before it exploded, but he was still badly hurt."
Face was now crying openly, guiltily.
"They managed to get to a hospital, and they were both treated. But the pilot was very badly hurt. He was in a coma, and wouldn't wake up. The little orphan boy never left his side, talking to him, trying to get him to respond. He felt so guilty that he had never told the pilot how much he loved him.
"This went on for two months." Face took a deep breath, tried to calm himself.
"One day the pilot woke up! He and the little orphan boy moved in together, and they lived happily ever after." He cleared his throat, took a sip of water. He stood up and tried to see if the "ending" was coming true. No response.
"Murdock, I'm so sorry. I've been through so much; I never imagined you might have been through things as well. I just, just kept waiting for you to leave me. Like everyone else. Now I'm paying for it." Face sat back down.
"No one can be there for you 100% of the time. It's impossible – you can't control every single little thing in the world. All you can do is say that you'll try. That when push comes to shove you'll put that person above everything else in your life, and stick with it no matter what. And that's okay. That's what you gave me, what I've always wanted.
"I was the one who betrayed you. I never let you know what I was thinking or feeling, never let you know about all the stuff that's happened to me in my life. Even when you opened your heart to me, I still held back. And now maybe I'll never get to share all that with you."
Face wiped the tears from his cheeks. He pushed a little hair back from Murdock's forehead, kissed him lightly. He sat back down, still holding his hand tightly, waiting for any sign of life.
"I can't believe I'll never get to tell you… I love you."
Face put his head down, wept openly, crying as loud as possible in the hope of waking the man he had come to rely on.
"I love you."
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