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Between the Pages 1

Between the Pages

By Elf

- Style: Part6 Will be Slash, but not in the first few bits.

- Pairing: Face/Murdock

- Rating: NC-17 (Slash)

- Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. They belong to Mr. Cannell. Dear Mr. Cannell, if you can find it in you heart to let the team come over for a weekend leave, I promise to return them unharmed. If I return them at all.... Oops, shouldn't have said that...

- Warning: Tension, Angst... Eventual Slash (m/m consensual). You've been warned. If you don't like it, please skip over it. The slash piece is coming at the end, though, so if you want to hang around for a little while...

- Spoilers: None

- Summary: Murdock and Face have been at each other's throats of late. What is the cause for all this tension? How can they solve it? Use your imagination.... ;D

- Comments: Pretty please, with a cherry on top? Now, how can you resist that?

- Author's Notes: Setting is after fifth season...

Between the Pages

By: 'Elf'

Part 1/7

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Murdock looked up tentatively, waiting for the rest of his team members to come back to the house. The mission had just been wrapped up, but it had obviously been botched and patched in many areas. One of the areas that had been suffering of late was the relationship between Murdock and Face.

There was a rising sense of concern in Hannibal and BA as they had both been observing the growing tension. It was like they had been watching the slow unraveling of their friendship over the last couple of months and they were as perplexed by it as they were totally helpless. It was as if a slow burn was gradually cumulating into a full-force fire. Hannibal and BA had discussed this recently and they felt the fear of this potential blowup.

Murdock stared at the opening door and stood just as Hannibal entered the room with Face somewhat behind him. Hannibal was pleased that the plan had ultimately worked and that the case could now be considered officially closed. But his joviality was short-lived. His smile faded and his trademark phrase died on his lips before it was actually uttered.

Hannibal noticed the fear in his Captain's eyes, there was also a bit of forced lightheartedness and a remoreseful look that said, *I'm sorry.* But it wasn't directed at him. It was aimed slightly behind him. The tension was palpable. Hannibal turned toward his second-in-command. Face's features were hard and cold. His demeanor was seething.

"You're not angry with me, are you, Faceyman?" was what Murdock eventually said. His voice was light spoken but edged with some quality Hannibal could not place.

Hannibal looked again at Face. His eyes flashed with an angry light and his jaw was set firm. His withering look spoke volumes. Things were decidedly taking an ugly turn this time as he observed Face in unabated fury, a stage that he rarely ever got into. Hannibal didn't think he was going to speak at first, but when the response came, he wished it hadn't. Face's voice had a dangerous quality to it, spoken low and firm. "Oh no, Murdock," Face nearly spat, "Of course not. Oh no. I am way beyond angry. In fact, I am livid."

Hannibal felt both his men tense in their stances. He almost thought it might get physical; the seconds passed, each lasting an eternity, as the two seemed to weigh their options. *What the Hell is going on here?* Hannibal thought, nearly getting caught in the angry mood himself. It seemed the two of them were sparring constantly these days. Not in the way Murdock and BA usually did, but in a way that was decidedly more raw and sensitive.

Finally, with his look never wavering from Murdock or softening, Face fetched his keys from his pocket and announced quietly, but no less coldly, to Hannibal, "I am going for a drive." With that, he snapped out of the exchange and angrily stalked out the front door. There was no room for Hannibal to say anything, and he was left feeling somewhat puzzled, looking at Murdock.

BA had stepped quietly into the room at the end of the exchange and had silently witnessed it, glancing from man to man. As Face left, he furrowed his brow and uttered the words that had run through Hannibal's mind, "What's this all about? What's going on, Hannibal?" Hannibal searched around his mind for something to say, but finding nothing, he remained silent. What bothered him most is that he knew that there was more going on between his 2nd and his pilot than what was immediately visible. He just didn't know exactly what. They both looked at Murdock.

"What's going on? Why, there's nothing going on! What, you're seeing things too now BA? Just like that! Everybody is trying to steal my thunder," Murdock snapped, "no one ever claimed to see the purple wobblies and the pink dots until I did." Murdock then broke off the conversation. He continued a low and senseless monologue under his breath while he jumped around busying himself with gathering equipment and readying it for transport. Hannibal made a mental note of the evasion.

BA became annoyed, but uncharacteristically did not take the bait. He turned and addressed Hannibal, "I'm going to the van, Hannibal. I haven't got time for the crazy man's ramblings." Everything about BA's body language spoke about how he was tiring of this ongoing conflict between Face and Murdock. The annoyance quickly dissipated as it was replaced by concern. BA was puzzled by these exchanges and a sense of worried frustration was leaking into his demeanor. Hannibal noticed it in BA, even if the big man usually succeeded at hiding it. BA stole a quick glance in the direction of Murdock and his busywork, shook his head, and gave Hannibal a shrug. Crossing the room quietly, he picked up some of the equipment and exited.

Hannibal knew something needed to be done and it had to be done real soon, even if he had to kick a couple of stubborn butts to do it. Hannibal quickly ran in his mind the last few events of the mission. One aspect became glaringly apparent after a few moments and he could see how it seemed to be the crux of the current round of tension. The mission had been ultimately successful, but would have gone smoother had just one thing been different.

During the mission, Hannibal had to get into the thick of things, so had placed Face in command of the team for the duration of that time. Not normally a problem, since after all these years together, Hannibal found Face's thinking becoming more and more in line with his own. Hannibal had been given a hidden ear transceiver, so that he could hear the team while behind enemy lines. He knew where things went wrong. Face gave a direct order to Murdock. Only, Murdock did not follow it. It was as if he was second-guessing the Lieutenant, he'd waited too long and then decided to do his own thing. Ultimately, they fudged it and it all fell into place, but...

Hannibal looked at his Captain. When Hannibal wasn't around to give orders, the official team ranking meant that responsibility fell on Face's shoulders to take over command of the unit. Murdock technically outranked Face, but since Face was made the XO of the unit, it meant Face was second in command. A technicality, but an important one...

Things had been rocky between Murdock and Face ever since the mission with the female spy, protecting A.J. Bancroft, and the shooting at the restaurant. The one thing that the team needed the most was harmony and Hannibal needed a way to restore it as soon as possible.

Murdock had finished piling the equipment together and was now anxiously fiddling with this and that, just to appear engrossed, Hannibal knew. The furtive glances from Murdock signaled to Hannibal that Murdock knew this too, and that he was just waiting for the Colonel to speak. Hannibal wasn't about to disappoint him.

"Captain," Hannibal spoke, waiting for Murdock to meet his eyes, "tell me what is happening between you two. I think I know what this is about, but I don't know why." Hannibal spoke the rank with an unusual edge, in the tone he sometimes used to make sure he would get a team member's full, undivided attention or to remind the team with whom the authority ultimately resided.

The team ranking was an agreement they all had made when they first decided that they were going to act as soldiers of fortune. It was important for the team to have a strict structure and they felt the military structure was still good in their situation... they'd added a few changes to fit their fugitive status but basically, it was still good.

Murdock had missed those first few years together, however, as he had been in the VA and his mind had been seriously fragmented at the time. Hannibal reflected on this for a bit. It suddenly occurred to him that maybe things weren't as well established as he had thought, "Tell me why you disobeyed a direct order."

Murdock glanced sadly down at the equipment and shuffled a bit of it in place. The insanity he had feigned earlier seemed to disappear, "I dunno, Colonel. I... I really don't... know." Murdock glanced back up and met Hannibal eyes once again. Hannibal saw a confused cloudiness there. Hannibal's forehead creased at the comment.

"Murdock," Hannibal spoke with an unwavering steadiness in his eyes, "Face is my XO. I chose him for that position because he possesses certain qualities I need in a second in command. Do you understand?" Hannibal waited for an acknowledgement from Murdock before continuing.

Murdock nodded nervously and spoke softly, "Yes, Colonel."

Hannibal continued, "I chose each of you for the qualities you possess, but most of all, I need unity in my ranks," he paused for emphasis and lowered his head a bit while keeping eye contact, "Do you know what that means?"

Murdock knew exactly what that meant. It meant that Hannibal needed Murdock to sort out what he 'didn't know,' and to get over whatever it was as quickly as possible.

"I need this to be resolved... I need it resolved as of yesterday. If I have to shove you both into a concrete room and let you have it out... then I will do that," Hannibal addressed Murdock, "but, I need you to figure out your end, alright?"

Murdock examined his shoes. Hannibal continued, "If Face thinks you need some kind of "punishment" for insubordination, I am going to back him up, okay?" Murdock looked up at that, and saw an earnest and concerned look on Hannibal's face.

Hannibal waited for acknowledgement before continuing, "I'm going to the van and I'm going to call Face. I will order him to come back to the motel as soon as he cools down a bit. Then... I want this," Hannibal made a frustrated gesture in the air, "whatever this is... done with. Understand?" Hannibal paused, then picked up some equipment from the floor, exiting without saying anything further.

-- end part one -- TBC


Between the Pages 1 by Elf
Between the Pages 2 by Elf
Between the Pages 3 by Elf
Between the Pages 4 by Elf
Between the Pages 5 by Elf
Between the Pages 6 by Elf
Between the Pages 7 by Elf

 

 


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