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Keep Talking I'm Listening

Title: "Keep Talking, I'm Listening"
Author:
Casper
Copyright: © 2003 Isabel Florence/(
Casper)
Rating: PG
Type: Light SLASH. Romance. Sap. Angst.
Pairing: Face/Murdock
Chronology: 1983
Status: Complete
Summary: Murdock does the unthinkable to Face. How will they deal with this? Face and Murdock POV. It helps to have read "How Do I Say I Love You?" and "I Wish I Had Your Joie de Vivre" first, as this fiction follows on from those two in that order. All three can easily be read as stand alone fictions. However, "Joie de Vivre" and "Keep Talking" read better when read together, as they have been especially written as complimenting fictions.
Warnings/Content: Light SLASH. Consensual male/male chaste touching and kissing, and exchanged words of love. Angst. Sap. Drama. Romance. Mild profanity.

Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team characters, and am making no profit from this story, which is a work of fan fiction only. The A-Team characters solely belong to Universal, Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell, and I thank them for their existence.
Thanks & Acknowledgments: To the Beta readers: Karen Davis, Howlin' Thunderbird (T-Bird), Pam, Val Thomas and Strangebird, with very deep thanks and great appreciation for all your valuable help, input and advice. :o)

Featured Song: "Keep Talking" - © 2002 BMG Australia Limited – Vocals: Australian singer John Farnham. Lyrics: Phil Thornalley & David Munday. From the John Farnham album, "The Last Time".
Comments?: Yes. :o)

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

"KEEP TALKING, I'M LISTENING"

 

*~*~* PART 1 *~*~*

 

"Face."

 

I swiveled around and smiled over at Murdock as he walked across the hangar floor.

 

That man was my world. I never thought it would happen again. Not like that. Not with him. Leslie had been the last time I'd ever felt that deeply about someone. Felt that feeling of wanting it to be forever.

 

I don't know why he affected me that way. Maybe it was his deeply expressive eyes, those deep, dark brown pools of emotion, which pulled me right in. Or it could've been his voice, which flowed like honey over me every time he spoke. Or maybe it was the way his body moved; with speed and grace. Or the way his touch set fire to my veins. Or it could've been any number of a hundred other things, or maybe it could've been everything combined.

 

Yeah, most likely it was all of the above and then some.

 

He was dressed as usual in his brown leather bomber jacket, with the Da Nang tiger on the back, brown trousers, a blue plaid shirt, and today, a red t-shirt, which I couldn't quite see the writing on. There seemed to be some cartoon design or other on it, with words underneath, a bit obscured by the plaid shirt and jacket. He has a huge collection of t-shirts. Sometimes I give them to him as gifts, 'cause he loves collecting them, the more funny and unusual the better.

 

I couldn't help but drink him in as he came towards me, his stride long and easy. But there was a distracted frown on his face and he wasn't quite meeting my eyes as he walked across the hangar floor, skirting around the plane I was sitting just off to the side of.

 

With anyone else, the alarm bells would have been clanging loudly by then. With Murdock, though, I felt secure. There was a trust there I'd not felt in a very, very long time.

 

My smile felt warm as he came up to where I was sitting, on a stool, fiddling with some parts I'd been trying to get together for BA. His smile was nervous, his eyes darting a little from side to side, as if unsure of where I was. I'm right here, Murdock, I had the sudden urge to say, my heart rate speeding up a notch.

 

"Hey Murdock, what's up buddy?" I greeted him, as his steps slowed and then stopped in front of me. I smiled warmly up at him. Loving the way the dancing sunshine formed almost a halo around him as he stood there.

 

My angel. My guardian angel.

 

"I'd get up and greet you properly, but I'm up to my elbows in spare parts right now. You'll have to come down to my level." Grimacing just a little, I wiped my hands on the old pair of jeans I'd thrown on that morning, leaving faint smudges of grease behind.

 

The parts were strewn out on a large tarpaulin in front of me on the floor of the hangar. I'd scammed them off a pretty little redhead the day before. Her soft kisses were already a nearly forgotten memory. All just part of the job, part of the game. Using my face to get us what we needed, when we needed it, using all my skills. All of them. But I stopped short of sleeping with the women. My heart wasn't in that anymore. Besides, I'm not going to sell my body, not for anything. There is a line, and that's one I've never crossed. Even before Murdock, I'd never crossed that line. Yeah, I'd had any number of girlfriends before Murdock. They'd walked in and out of my door so fast, it'd practically revolved, but they'd given me only physical release, and very little more than that. That's all I'd wanted from them, and that's all they'd required from me. No strings attached.

 

"Face, I..."

Why wasn't he moving? And that hesitancy. If I hadn't known better I'd think... No. No, there was no way that could've been the case, I refused to let my thoughts even stray in that direction.

 

Tilting my head up to look at him, I tried to focus on his eyes. The sun had become my adversary, as it threw his eyes into shadow by shining into mine over his shoulder.

 

My heart started a fast patter in my chest, nearly painful in its intensity.

 

Something was wrong, something big, I could hear it in his voice, see it in his body language. It couldn't be about Hannibal and BA, they were both there today, with me, somewhere outside, scrounging things from around the old abandoned airfield I'd found that week past.

 

If not, then it had to be something else. Something about us, maybe?

 

Everything inside me began screaming to change the subject. Anything to avoid what was coming. Whatever it was.

 

"You like the plane, Murdock?" I asked, after a beat or two. "She's practically like new. All she needs is a bit of repair work done on her. What a find, huh?" I broke off, laughing a little nervously. "BA's upset, though. Thinks I'm gonna get him to fly on it. Keeps telling me he'll pound me into the ground before that happens. You know what he's like..."

 

Even to my own ears my voice sounded nervous, prattling, interspersed with that little hesitant half laugh I make sometimes, when things are making me feel a little off balance. My words ran down, as I watched him hesitantly for some sort of positive response. He'd taken his cap off and was twisting it around in his hands nervously, eyes darting.

 

"Yeah, yeah, it's great, Faceguy. Um..." He barely looked at the plane as he spoke, I'm not sure he even saw it.

 

"I have to talk to you, Face. Please. Now." He was looking at me then, and his eyes pleaded.

 

I found myself wondering where Hannibal and BA were. Not that it mattered, our relationship was not a secret, but there were some things that needed to remain private, and my gut was telling me this was going to be one of those times.

 

They didn't seem to be anywhere around, but something whispered to me that in a few moments I might not even care where they were. But, oh God, I hoped not. Anything was preferable to what my soul was screaming to me to sit up and pay attention to.

 

He crouched then, in front of me, his liquid brown eyes locking with mine, not reaching out to touch me.

 

Nervously I lifted a hand and ran it back through my hair, careless of trailing grease into it, a little annoyed to feel it trembling slightly. I let it drop back onto my knees, and the trembling stilled, for the moment. I tilted my head, waiting for him to speak, too nervous to risk words.

 

"Face, I, ah..." He trailed off again, uncertain.

 

I hadn't heard him call me plain 'Face' so many times in one day for years, and that, more than anything, sent apprehension coursing through me.

 

Swallowing, his eyes drifted away for a second, then refocused on mine.

 

"Face, I ah, I don't know how to say this, so I'm um, I'm just gonna come out with it." He paused, searching my eyes.

 

Was he looking for a reaction? To what, though? For what?

 

I smiled, admittedly a little shakily, but it was a smile.

 

"Go on, Murdock, keep talking, I'm listening," I managed at last, my voice quiet, soft, giving nothing away. I lifted an eyebrow and could feel that old, quirky, cynical half grin touch my lips.

 

He moved then, reaching out and taking one of my hands from my lap, enfolding it in his. His hand warm around my cold one. He caressed it for a bit, rubbing his thumb over the back of it, looking down at it, a small, nervous half smile on his face.

 

Then he was looking at me again, his mesmerizing eyes boring with their strong intensity into mine. I felt myself falling, as always, until his next words sent me spinning.

 

"Face, I, ah, I need to take a break for a while. Just for a little while, you know. Just to, ah, just to sort my head out."

 

I blinked at him stupidly for a moment, staring at him incredulously. Had he just said-? No, he hadn't meant what my mind was jumping to the conclusion of. Of course he hadn't, that'd be ridiculous.

 

Wouldn't it?

 

"Sure, Murdock," I managed at last. "We... We can go wherever you like. Just you 'n me. Together. Somewhere nice. Quiet. I know just the place. Soft, sandy, golden beaches. Girls. Not that, you know, that matters. But... But... The scenery is great. We'll go tomorrow, hey? What do you say about that? Yeah, I can see it now, you 'n me, moonlit beach, champagne in hand, quiet murmur of the waves. Huh?" I laughed shortly, nervously. "Yeah, that sounds like just the thing. I'll go speak to Hannibal. Right? You wait here, Murdock."

 

I was babbling, I knew it, saying whatever came into my head, anything but even attempt to grasp the underlying meaning behind his words, such as they'd been so far. My words tumbling over each other in a rush, a mixture of Faceman scamming charm and nervous tension

 

As I went to stand, he pulled me back down again by the hand still clasped within his.

 

"No, Face."

 

Simple words.

 

Cool words.

 

Chilling words.

 

Such simple, simple words.

 

So why did I feel as if I'd been sucker punched?

 

My legs practically collapsed under me, as my knees went weak, my body dropping nearly bonelessly back onto the stool in front of where Murdock still crouched. My eyes dully focused on our interlocked hands, his going white where mine clasped it in a desperate, viselike grip. Loosening it, I pulled my hand away from his abruptly and let it drop back onto my knees, casting my eyes down with it, not wanting to see the rejection in his face.

 

"Face, I..." He paused and cleared his throat a little. Meanwhile, I found a spot of grease on my old denim jeans totally fascinating.

 

"Face, I need time alone. I got so much goin' on in my head right now. It's, ah, it's difficult to deal with. You 'n me. You 'n me are a, a complication right now, an' I... an' I..." He sighed abruptly and cut off whatever his next words might have been.

 

Either that, or I'd faded out for a bit.

 

A complication? He thought we were a complication. Us? Him and me? Oh, God!

 

Looking up a little shakily, I again drew a dirty, greasy hand nervously through my hair, and waved the other a little his way. "A complication, Murdock?" I couldn't keep the aggrieved tone out of my voice. "You think you and me are a - a - a complication? Huh, funny, 'cause, y'know, I thought, you 'n me were special. Was beginning to think we were forever. Stupid me, huh? Bet they're laughin' somewhere, right about now. Yep, just bet they are." He at least had the grace to flinch at the dry, self-mocking cynicism in my voice.

 

Standing, I moved backwards away from him.

 

My God, did I stumble?

 

Damn it, Faceman, get a grip. Where's that cool unflappable poise? You can handle this, concentrate!

 

Squaring my shoulders, lifting my chin proudly, I forced the floodgates on my emotions to crash closed, and slammed down shut the shutters on my eyes and soul, trapping everything within, hiding it all from him.

 

Murdock stood then also, reaching out a hand to me, almost in supplication. "Face, no. It's not what you think. Things are just too weird right now. I just want to cool down for a while. Not forever, just for a while. I just need some time out alone. Please try'n understand, Face. Come on, Face..."

 

He stepped towards me, I stepped back, one hand out, warding him off, fighting down panic.

 

"Face?"

 

Stepping back one more step, I drew my shoulders up a little more, and wiped my perspiration-slicked hands on my jeans, leaving behind more trails of grease. Raising an eyebrow, and tilting my chin up a little further, I shrugged my shoulders casually.

 

"Yeah sure, Murdock, whatever you need. Take all the time you need, buddy. You know where to find me." Moving then, I walked around him and away from him, heading for the doors.

 

Oh God, I had to get out of there. Out before I made a real fool of myself.

 

My legs shook, heck, my whole body was shaking, but I was determined to make it out those damn doors with my head held high, and my dignity somewhat intact.

 

"Face."

 

No, I wouldn't stop and look at him. Looking at him would be bad. Looking at him would unravel my resolve. Looking at him might see me on my knees begging him to stay, and that wasn't gonna happen. No damn way. Not here, not now, not ever, or at least, not yet anyway.

 

Not when the only outcome would be more rejection.

 

Deeper heartache.

 

"Face, please stop." It was his voice that decided me in the end. Pain mixed with desperation.

 

Stopping, I turned back to him slowly, gathering all my defenses. Maybe, just maybe, he'd come to his senses.

 

"You gonna be okay, Faceguy?" he asked quietly, concern replacing the desperation.

Dragging out my best conman's smile, the one that never quite reaches my eyes, I shrugged and gave a nearly careless, nervous tinged half laugh, cutting it off with an in-drawn breath.

 

"All right? Of course, I'm gonna be all right," I breezed. "Aren't I always?"

 

He looked uncertain, his eyes searching, trying to lock unsuccessfully with mine.

 

"Come on, Murdock, this is me, the Faceman. I've got a plan for every contingency. I've even got a date tonight. Charlene. She's a pretty little redhead, y'know. The one I got most of these parts from. Man, can she kiss..."

 

Or was her name Brenda, or Poppy, or Joyce, or Cheryl, or Pat, or... God knew I'd forgotten it seconds after walking away with the stuff, leaving behind the empty promise of dinner later, maybe.

 

The flash of hurt pain in Murdock's eyes was enough to stop my near babbling in its tracks.

 

My shoulders sagging, the breath rushing out of my body in a slightly frustrated sigh, I walked back over to him. Then, within reach, lightly caressed his cheek with my hand, and just for a moment let my love show through.

 

But only for a moment.

 

"I'll be all right, Murdock," I half whispered. "It's okay. Don't worry about me. It's okay."

 

I let my hand drop, stepped backwards, and held his gaze for a moment longer. Then, tearing myself away from him, turned and walked away, fighting down the threatening tears, my back straight, shoulders square, head held high.

 

I would make it out those doors, without looking or going back.

 

I would make it to my car, and then, take life from there.

 

It was the only way.

 

"Face."

 

I kept walking, quickening my pace.

 

"Face."

 

Not much further, the doors of the hangar were only a few feet away.

 

"Face."

 

The pain in his voice nearly stopped me, but I kept going, out the doors, into the bright sunlight, blinking a little after the dimness of the light inside, and practically ran to my car.

 

Leaning, with my hands clutching at the door, knuckles white, I fought desperately for control over my tumultuous emotions, head bowed, chest heaving.

 

"Face."

 

Stiffening, I straightened up, taking a moment to collect and compose myself before turning around.

 

"Hannibal?" I felt a tug of pride at how steady my voice sounded, knowing nothing was showing.

 

Not now.

 

"Going somewhere, Lieutenant?" he asked, one eyebrow raised in enquiry, lips slightly smiling, cigar poised in one hand, the smoke curling lazily into the air between us, smelling sweet.

 

God, I could have done with a cigarette right about then and, oh God, I really, really hoped he wasn't going to make this even more difficult than it already was.

 

"Yes," I replied, steadily. "Going for a drive and then going home."

 

He studied me intently for a long moment, his eyes searching, the amused gleam gone from them, replaced with, with what? Concern? Annoyance? Worry? It's hard to tell with Hannibal at times. There's so much going on in his head at any one time, he's impossible to read. Except when he's on the jazz, then his eyes shine and sparkle and his mouth just won't stop smiling, in that devil may care, life's just one big adventure, fashion. Or when he's angry, or extremely annoyed, for whatever reason, then they're either stormy and full of fire, or cold and intense, like ice. Otherwise, he's pretty much a closed book and it's anyone's guess, really, as to what's going on in there.

 

Now was one of those times. There was something in the eyes, but I couldn't quite grasp it, and frankly didn't have the will or energy to try. I just wanted out of there as fast as possible.

 

Hannibal's eyes flickered back toward the hangar, then refocused on me.

 

"Where's Murdock?" he asked simply, his voice neutral.

 

"Inside." I dropped my eyes as I spoke, not wanting him to see what was going on in them.

 

"Oh... Right." There was a pause. Then, "Have you told him?"

 

Had I told him? What a good question. Had I told Murdock, who meant the entire world to me, that the airfield and the plane were a gift from me to him. The airfield was leased, not scammed. The owner had been all too willing to unload his 'White Elephant' on to me. The plane had come with the airfield. It'd been shrouded in tarpaulins in the hangar, slowly falling apart from disuse. The owner had sold it to me for a song. Probably lower than he might have been able to get for it, but then, he hadn't sold to Templeton Peck before. It had been a simple matter after that to rope BA and Hannibal into helping me get the small private airfield and the plane back into working order.

 

Getting the skillfully forged license and IDs for Murdock had been a piece-of-cake. He'd be able to fly the airplane legally using them, as I was totally confident they'd stand up under even the most close and in-depth scrutiny.

 

Today I'd planned to give them to him, along with a proposal. I'd planned to ask him to marry me some day, after all this madness was over and done with. Or, even before then, if he felt like it.

 

Even now I could feel the outline of the ring box pressing into my upper thigh through the pocket of my jeans, mocking me, taunting me with its uselessness now.

 

There was no point now.

 

"Face?"

 

I shifted my eyes back up to Hannibal.

 

"Um, uh, no. No, I haven't told him. Not yet." Nervously, I rubbed at my side, while my other hand still clasped the door of my new Corvette.

 

A lifeline to reality, holding me on my feet.

 

"Ah..." Hannibal gazed at me intently for a long moment. A very long moment. The silence stretching between us as he examined me.

 

He was the first to speak.

 

"Okay," he said in that drawn out tone he gets when he's surprised, and not in a very good way. "So you're just gonna leave, huh?" He waved his hand and the smoke from the cigar twirled around with it.

 

"Yeah." I twitched a little under his gaze.

 

"Not changing?" His eyes flickered to the duffle bag on the passenger seat of the Corvette. Inside was a complete change of clothing. I'd planned to shower in the working bathroom of the small office building on the airfield before leaving. Hadn't wanted grease on my new Corvette.

 

That was the furthest thing from my mind right then, however.

 

Leaving there was my priority.

 

And fast.

 

"No. Um. Hannibal, please..." I wasn't pleading, begging, or even asking, just hoping for his understanding, enough to let it go.

 

"Okay, Lieutenant," he said after a bit, his tone guarded. "Remember to check in later."

 

Nodding, giving him a brief, mirthless smile, I turned and opened the door to my new car, slipping down into the soft leather seat behind the wheel, closing the door, and for just a moment resting my head wearily back against the head rest.

 

The 1984 release Corvette convertible was only a few weeks old, white, with a red stripe down each side. A dream to drive, with rust-red leather seats, CB radio and car phone installed. Purchased from my share of our jobs over the years, outright, in cash, for what was once again a very good price. The best Templeton Peck could negotiate for himself, which was pretty darn good.

 

Turning my head, I looked past Hannibal, back at the doors of the hangar.

 

Would Murdock come out to me? I hoped he would. In fact, almost desperately hoped he would. Hoped he'd come and prove to me he hadn't meant his words. That it had all been a dreadful misunderstanding.

 

But, he didn't come.

 

He wasn't coming.

 

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, I guess. He'd been restless and antsy for weeks. We'd even had some fights and arguments, which is uncharacteristic for both of us normally.

 

Maybe they had him on new meds? Who knows...

 

Or, maybe he'd just worked out, like everyone else who's ever been in my life, and loved me for a little while, that Templeton Peck isn't worth hanging on to forever.

 

That Templeton Peck is a bad risk.

 

Closing my eyes briefly, I fought down the crushing pain, which surged through me, nearly making me gasp for breath.

 

I thought he trusted me. I thought we were doing good together. Why didn't he trust me?

 

I could've helped him through whatever he's going through. Why couldn't he trust me?

 

So many questions, none of which were likely to get answered. Not today at least.

 

Opening my eyes, I let my breath out in a painful sigh, turned on the engine, and threw the car clumsily and noisily into gear. Giving Hannibal a wave, I turned the car, screeching the wheels, and gunned the accelerator, burning rubber.

 

Not at all my usual way of driving.

 

Not only would I have to have the car detailed now, thanks to the grease, which was no doubt being smudged into the leather, I'd probably have to have the wheels realigned also.

 

Just great. Perfect end, to a perfect day.

 

Murdock, why? Why?

 

Oh, God, why?

 

*~*~* PART 2a *~*~*

 

"Where are you, fool?"

 

Man, for once I really didn't want to have to deal with BA.

 

After Face left, I'd sat on the stool he'd abandoned, elbows on knees, head in hands, just trying to work out what had happened here today.

 

I'd heard his car screeching off several minutes before - it's amazing how much pain lanced through me as he drove away - and I'd found myself wondering where he was going, hoping he'd be okay.

 

Damn it! How had it all managed to go so wrong? I'd never intended...

 

Damn! Damn! Damn it!

 

"What you doin' in here, fool?" BA had come to a stop in front of me.

 

"Just sittin', BA. Just sittin'," I sighed, as I dropped my hands and looked up into his face. He looked pissed. But then, doesn't he always? He looked more pissed than normal though. Not a good sign.

 

"What you do to Faceman, sucker?" he growled, punctuating each word with a stabbing finger.

 

Geez, if he scowled any more fiercely his face would set in that position.

 

"Now, BA, don't you remember what your momma told you about frownin' like that? You'll get all wrinkly."

 

I moved off the stool and quickly away from him as he made a lunge for me.

 

"What you goin' on about? Frownin'? What nonsense is that? I asked yo' a question, fool!"

 

He advanced on me, menacingly.

 

"Come on, BA, we're pals, right?" I stumbled a little over my feet, but managed to stay up on them.

 

"Depends what you did to lil' brother, sucker." He reached me and grabbed a handful of t-shirt, pulling me in close to his face.

 

"Now, BA, let the captain go." I turned my head, a little awkwardly in BA's grasp, to see Hannibal standing a little ways off.

 

BA let me go, steadying me a little as I stumbled.

 

Straightening my disarranged clothes, I looked nervously at BA and Hannibal. "It's between me an' Face. All right! Between us. You understand that?" I told them, a little defensively.

 

Meeting Hannibal's eyes, BA shook his head in disgust. The colonel simply shrugged his shoulders, before turning his attention fully my way.

 

"Fine, Murdock. Have it your way. But..." Hannibal came over to me, meeting my eyes square on. He paused after his last word, searching my face, concern in his eyes. "Sort it out with him, Murdock. As soon as you can," he went on, clasping my shoulder firmly with one of his hands.

 

"Yeah, I will. Just... I just need a few days, all right. Just a few days." It wouldn't be enough, not nearly enough, but first, I needed to sort things out in my head. More than needed to.

 

Hannibal smiled slightly, understanding in his eyes. "Don't take too long, Murdock. He was in a bad way before."

 

"Yeah, sucker. He ground his gears. Face don't grind his gears!" Now that was a typical BA way of showing his concern for someone. Relating it to something mechanical. Gotta love the big guy in spite of myself sometimes.

 

"Look, I said I'd do it. Just need time, is all. Time, y'know." I don't think either of them really understood what was going on. But then, neither did I, really. Everything was a mess. "Give me a ride back to the VA, would ya? You big angry mudsucker you." I flashed BA my brightest smile, waggling my eyebrows at him; trying to soften him up, if that was at all possible, before he drove me back home.

 

He growled, then jerked his chin toward the hangar doors, turned and walked away. Oh well, it was a start, I guess.

 

"Captain."

 

"Yeah, Hannibal?"

 

Man, I hoped he wasn't gonna ask me questions I couldn't answer.

There was compassion in his eyes as I looked at him.

 

"Take care of it," he said simply.

 

With a faint smile and a final weary nod, and meeting of our eyes, I turned and walked away from him, leaving him standing there near the half repaired plane.

 

 

*~*~*  PART 2b *~*~*

 

There's no doubt about it, no matter which way I looked at it over the next several days, I had to admit I'd hurt Face, and hurt him badly.

He made no attempt to contact me, and any calls I put through to his latest scammed home - a beach house this time - went unanswered, connecting to an answering machine. Calls to his car phone received a similar fate.

 

If I could take back the words, I would. If I'd known the shocking level of pain my words would cause him, I'd have cut out my own tongue before saying them. Figuratively speaking, of course.

The thing is, I never meant Face to think I didn't want him anymore, or that I didn't need him. Heck, I ache for him. The last thing I want is to lose him, not completely. But talk about major mismanagement. My words had come out all skewed around, giving Face totally the wrong idea.

 

My need for time out, for time alone, was a personal need, not a desire to leave him behind. Not forever anyway.

 

But then, the past few days without Face, and the thought of never having him close to me again, had brought home to me strongly one crystal clear fact. I needed him. More than I ever thought I did. It'd been stupid and wrong to push him aside.

 

In an all too short moment in time, everything I'd spent years building up with Face had been swept aside. His ability to trust another completely with his love and affection, and his commitment to me. That might all be gone now. All because of my rampant stupidity.

 

BA was right, I'm a fool! A damn fool!

 

Sighing, I rolled and sat up on the bed, then reached for the phone, dialing his number one more time.

 

The phone rang and rang and…

 

Nothing!

 

Damn it!

 

No doubt about it. If I wanted to speak to Face, the mountain was definitely gonna have to go to Muhammad.

 

 

*~*~* PART 2c *~*~*

 

It'd been easy enough to get away from the VA. It usually is, most of the time. They'd stopped calling the cops and sending people after me years ago. After all, I always came back, and I'm not a prisoner there. This time I'd made a break for it while walking in the gardens and ran off, the blaring alarms following me out on to the street. A conveniently situated cab had been grabbed, and well, Bob's your uncle, as they say.

 

Now, there I stood in front of Faceguy's beach house, my stomach fluttering nervously, trying to get up the nerve to knock on the door.

 

Some windows were open, the curtains fluttering in the breeze. Couldn't see his new Corvette, but then, it was probably locked away in the garage. Knowing Face, there's no way he'd leave it out for anyone to run off with, or even for the salt air to get to it, or the weather.

 

It was peaceful and tranquil there. The homes were set on large blocks of land spread a fair way apart, giving them privacy. Some had boats in their driveways, others flashy cars, or kids' toys, push bikes and such. The light from street lamps vaguely illuminated the houses, in the fast gathering darkness of the early evening. Lights glimmered in most windows along the street.

 

An expensive neighborhood.

 

Typical Faceman style.

Gathering my courage, I walked up the short path to the front door, and knocked, loudly. There was no response, so I knocked again.

 

There were no lights on inside the home. It was still light enough outside to make out the basic outline of things, but it would have to have been much darker inside.

 

Making a decision, I pulled a set of lock picks from my pocket and set to work.

 

It's what Face would have done. Just turnin' the tables a little.

 

It took only moments to unlock the door. Pushing it open, I moved down a short hall. It was mostly dark inside.

 

"Face?" I called out, not wanting to startle him. He carried a gun, after all. It's not a good idea to startle a man with a gun.

 

"Facey, you in here?"

 

I wandered into an enormous open room overlooking the ocean. Large wide French windows, their white lace curtains fluttering in the breeze, opened out on to a huge patio entertainment area. A table with eight chairs situated around it stood in the middle of the patio, and off to one side a large barbecue loomed. The area seemed a little eerie and shadowy in the soft glow of the fast fading day.

 

Inside it was a little hard to see clearly in the dim light left in the unlit room. It felt as if there was thick plush carpet under my feet, which left me wondering if I should have removed my shoes. An enormous fireplace was set into one wall and a bar area stood dimly in one corner section. An enormous couch seemed to dominate the room also, looking like a large dark blotch in the shadowy room. Other bits and pieces of furniture created dark mysterious blobs here and there.

 

It really was too hard to see much of anything with any clarity. I could, though, make out something, someone to be more precise, on the couch, at the end farthest from the dim light coming through the open French windows from the fading day.

 

"Face?"

 

The immobile figure didn't move or speak.

 

Going over to where I'd spied the light switches on the wall near the room's entrance, I turned them on, making sure the settings were set for dim light.

 

God knows how long Face had been sitting there in the dark. He didn't even blink as the lights came on. Course, he didn't have his eyes open.

 

He looked God-awful. Hair disheveled, pale, with dark circles under his eyes. A drink, possibly Scotch, with mostly melted ice in it, sat on a glass-topped coffee table of a pale, varnished wood, in front of the couch. The drink looked untouched. Mostly. The bottle stood nearby, nearly two thirds full still, its cap on the table beside it. I dearly hoped it was his first bottle, and not one of many past ones.

 

The room looked neat and tidy as I looked around. There was no stale smell of alcohol. Not beyond the tangy sweet smell of the Scotch in the glass, and from the open bottle. There was also the sweet smell of smoke in the air, which I noticed was coming from a half finished cigarette resting on an ashtray near the bottle. Half a dozen cigarette stubs shared what looked like a fine crystal ashtray. Next to it sat a pack of cigarettes, with a silver lighter resting on top of them. The one he usually used to light Hannibal's cigars, several of which he always carried around in an inside pocket of his jacket.

 

He doesn't smoke much, doesn't like it all that much really. Usually only when he's preparing a cigar to give to Hannibal, or when he's running a scam, or the cigarettes when he's feeling bothered or spooked by something.

 

Maybe he was feeling both right now?

 

It's an expensive brand. Nice. The sort of brand you'd expect someone like Face to smoke. A brand with class, just like Face. Elegance and class.

 

Moving across the room, my feet shuffled in the plush, white carpet.

 

The room was mostly done in whites - it was all a little startling actually - with white curtains, white carpets, white walls and upholstery. Also pale, varnished wood accessories, and furniture, along with a few paintings on the walls here and there adding more color to the layout.

 

Very nice. Classy.

 

Like Face.

 

Sitting next to him, I waited for a bit before speaking, studying him.

 

He was curled on the end of the white leather couch, his legs tucked up with him. His feet were bare, as if he'd been walking on the beach, and slipped out of his shoes at the door. Probably he had. He was dressed in neat tan trousers, a soft pink silk shirt, and a light, tan cashmere sweater.

 

He looked elegant.

 

Excepting of course for the bare feet, and the stubble of not having shaved for maybe a day on his face, the messed up hair, the dark smudges under his eyes and the line of pain on his brow.

 

Yep, other than that, he looked kinda elegant.

 

"Face?" I said at last, risking a light touch on his leg.

 

Flinching slightly, he opened tired eyes and focused on me.

 

"Why are you here, Murdock?" he asked, wearily, as if he couldn't care less what the answer was, but thought he should ask it anyway.

 

"Couldn't stay away, Facey. Worried aboutcha." I rubbed his leg gently as I spoke. He didn't push me away, just gazed at me with those weary, shadowed eyes.

 

"Why?" he asked after a bit, curiosity in his voice and in his eyes.

 

"Because I, ah..."

 

God, this was so hard.

 

"Because I love ya, Facey. Why do you think?"

 

He closed his eyes briefly, as if pained, and turned his head away. "Do you? Do you really, Murdock?" he whispered softly, weary sadness in his voice.

 

"Yeah, Faceguy. Yeah, I do. Really." I gave his leg a squeeze, slightly surprised when he moved it out of my grasp.

 

Half turning his head, he looked at me with raised, incredulous eyebrows, a slight cynical twist to his lips. "You have a damn funny way of showing that, HM," he remarked dryly, eyes flashing a little.

 

Leaning forward, he reached for the pack of cigarettes and the lighter, then stood and moved away from the couch towards the open French windows.

 

Startled by the suddenness of his move, I did nothing to stop him physically withdrawing from me.

 

He was out the door, standing on the patio, which was now shrouded in darkness, before my brain got around to assimilating his last words and his sudden move after them.

 

Lace curtains moved gently in the soft sea breeze at either side of the doors. A point of light flared, briefly illuminating his face as he lit a cigarette. Smoke curled into the air as he took a long drag deep into his lungs, before letting it go, to disperse like mist in the tangy sea air.

 

The light from the room stretched across the patio, throwing some areas into deeper darkness, others into half shadows. Face had moved beyond the light, towards the far end facing the sea. He stood in shadow, the end of the cigarette glowing red every time he took a breath from it.

 

I'm not sure how long I sat there watching his back as he stared across the ocean, smoking down the cigarette, a nearly imperceptible tremble to his hand. The left hand rested in his pocket, but I'd no doubt it would be shaking a little also, if it weren't.

 

It had been me who'd done this to Face.

 

Me!

 

The one person who'd promised him forever, not all that long ago.

 

Several months ago, Face had nearly been killed on a mission. He'd received cracked ribs, multiple bruising, and a dreadful concussion, due to being bashed with a baseball bat. At that time, my world had nearly crashed to a halt. The thought of losing him had been nearly paralyzing.

 

He'd been ill for days afterwards. Hannibal had nearly bundled him off to the nearest hospital at several points in the days following the bashing. Only, Face had refused to go, saying he would deal with it himself, that he was okay, that I, Murdock, would take care of him well.

 

Take care of him I had. Held him while he threw up virtually everything he ate for the next several days. Held him when the pain was too much, the headaches agonizing. Repeated how much I loved him over and over again. Told him I was never, ever going away. Told him he was stuck with me.

 

We did take him to see a doctor in the end, at a private, discrete clinic. Face was healing fine, he'd told us. He had a severe concussion, and healing ribs, and general bruising around his torso, where the bats had struck him. No major internal injuries, luckily. He'd told Face to go home and rest for a couple of weeks.

 

We'd ended up taking him up to Crystal Lake, where he got a real kick out of watching BA and me training. He'd laughed in amusement as he watched Hannibal pushing us, making a variety of cracks and comments about us and our level of fitness. All egged on by Hannibal, of course.

Hannibal and Face have always been able to verbally play off each other beautifully. They seem to get a real kick out of encouraging each other on that front, especially on a job.

 

It's got us into more hot water over the years...

 

BA had kept on telling Face if he hadn't been hurt already, he'd pound him. In fact, he might still do it, he'd said, if Face didn't shut up with his jibber jabber.

 

It brought a smile to my lips, all the memories. There were certainly some great ones from across the years we'd all been together, in spite of it all.

 

Face had made some comment one day at the lake, about how great it was to be sitting back watching the rest of us train. He'd been smiling broadly, and had said it in a bright, breezy, airy, carefree Face-like fashion, earning murderous glares from BA, and amused, indulgent smiles from Hannibal and me.

 

"You do realize what this means, don't you, Lieutenant?" Hannibal had asked him, in true Hannibal style and flair.

 

"No, what?" Face had become worried, had then said, "Hannibal, you know I don't like it when you look at me like that." His eyes had widened, and he'd touched his throat, where his tie would normally have been, swallowing nervously, and looking from Hannibal, to BA, to me.

 

"It means, Face..." Hannibal had drawn it out, like he always does. "That when you're given the all clear, you get to train twice as hard as the rest of us."

 

Face had literally paled, and then groaned as if in pain, and made some of those nervous noises he often makes when he's lost for words, before saying, "Aw, come on, Hannibal. Take pity on me, I'm an invalid, remember?"

 

Hannibal had laughed, then told Face, "but not for long" and to, "be prepared" and all that. BA had been vastly amused, giggling. It's always funny to hear BA giggle. Scary, too. As for me, well, I couldn't help myself; I'd smiled broadly at Face's discomfort as the tables had been turned on him.

 

It's so much fun to tease him sometimes.

 

He'd moaned and blustered for a bit, before Hannibal had put an arm around his shoulders and told him to cheer up, that it wasn't all that bad, that at least he had a few more days rest. Face had grinned at him weakly and thanked him for nothing, saying that for some reason Hannibal's words weren't making him feel any better.

 

So many good memories.

It had been a nice trip. We'd stayed up there for a few weeks in the end. Face got to recover, and he got to train, much to his frustration.

 

It had been peaceful and serene there. One evening near dusk, we'd gone for a walk in the woods, down near the lake. We'd stopped to sit on a big flat rock near the water.

 

We'd kissed.

 

We'd made love. Sweet, glorious love.

We'd promised each other forever.

 

A promise I'd broken.

 

Brutally.

 

Groaning in frustration, snapping out of my thoughts, I moved from the couch out onto the patio. The cigarette in his hand glowed red again, as he drew on it, while I walked over to him.

 

"Face."

 

No response.

 

"Face, we should talk."

 

He turned around then, his face in shadow. Unreadable.

 

"Why? Haven't you said all you need to?" His voice was very nearly mocking. Hurt lacing the words. I knew he'd be frowning, and have that quirky, self mocking half grin on his face, if I could've seen him more clearly.

 

"Damn it, Face, would you gimme a break here. Come on over to the table so I can see you when we're talkin'. Please." My exasperated words tumbled over each other as I spoke, hoping desperately that Face would agree. Otherwise, it would make it harder.

 

Without any more words, Face brushed past me, strolled casually over to the table and sat down, stubbing out his spent cigarette in the crystal ashtray sitting on it.

 

Following him, I noticed there was another, apparently untouched drink, sitting on the table near the ashtray. The ice had completely melted in this one, giving the alcohol a lighter tone. There were only a few butts in the ashtray, one of them the one he'd just put there.

 

Drawing out another cigarette, he lit it. Waving his hand, the one with the cigarette in it, he gestured to a seat. "Sit down, Murdock. Make yourself at home."

 

Suppressing a flinch at the cool words, I chose a chair on the end nearest to him and sat, making sure the light from the open French doors illuminated his face, so I could clearly see his eyes.

 

He studied me for a while, a slight smile on his face, one of those, which never reach his eyes.

 

"Well?" he said at last, just a hint of impatience in his voice.

 

"Face..." I began hesitantly. "I know I hurt you the other day and, ah..." He raised an eyebrow and there was a glint of something in his eyes now. It was a little off putting, to be honest.

Clearing my throat, I forged ahead. "Y'see, Face, I never meant to imply that I wanted to leave you permanently. Geez, Facey, I love ya, that's the last thing on my mind."

 

His eyes narrowed, and he took a drag on the cigarette, letting the smoke go as he spoke to me. "Then what, Murdock? Explain it to me." There was confused pain in his voice now.

 

Feeling frustrated, I scrubbed at my eyes with the heels of my hands, then let them drop nervously back down on the table top, leaning forward a little toward him.

 

"It's just... Face, lately my head has been all screwy. I've been havin' a little trouble coping, y'know. There's so much goin' on, an' - an', it's been getting on top of me lately. So, I just wanted some time out. Time to sort out my head. Time without any other complications."

 

Face flinched visibly at the word "complications," and pain flashed strongly through his eyes. He quickly smothered both responses, but not before they'd had the time to hit me hard in the gut. Hand visibly trembling, he took another drag at the cigarette. By the time he let the smoke go again, his hand had stilled, the pain had been squashed, and his eyes were again hooded.

 

"Face? Please say something?"

 

He looked at me in surprise, one eyebrow raised. "Say something, Murdock?" He sounded slightly aggrieved. "What do you want me to say? What can I say to you? Is anything I might have to say going to matter, or make a difference?" Now there was definite frustrated pain in his words.

 

It was my turn to flinch, as the words poured out of him.

 

Well, I'd wanted him to say something.

 

"No, Face, it's... Aw, heck, Face, I'm so damn sorry. I've screwed this up so bad." I desperately searched for more words to say, some kind of explanation, something, anything.

 

Meanwhile, he sat watching me, smoking his cigarette, calm on the outside, turmoil within.

 

Typical Face.

 

Letting my breath slowly hiss out, I reached for his free hand. He let me take it in both of mine. Caressing the hand with my thumbs, I stared down at it for a short time, looking up when he reached over to stub the finished cigarette into the ashtray. He didn't reach for another. Instead, he kept his eyes focused on me, his expression unreadable.

 

"Face, I was wrong, badly wrong." Looking up, I caught and held his eyes. "These past few days, Face, I've been doin' a lot of soul searchin'. Thinkin' about what it is I want. What it is I need; how to deal with what's goin' on with me lately."

 

His hand lay relaxed in mine, but there was still a sort of fixed tension in his body language.

 

"Over these few days, Face, I've missed you bad. Real bad. The knowledge that I'd pushed you away with my words is killin' me. You gotta believe me, Facey."

 

Briefly, so briefly if I'd blinked, I would've missed it, his hand tightened around mine, and then went loose again.

 

He drew in his brows, his eyes stormy and intense, the blue in them dark. "You didn't trust me," he said simply. Quietly. A statement, not a question. "You should have trusted me," he added, equally as quietly, pain in his voice. "I would have helped you get through, whatever it is you are going through. All you had to do was let me in. To trust me." He sounded desperately sad now, nearly anguished. It tore me apart to see him like this.

 

"But, Murdock, instead you pushed me aside. Pushed me away. Left me. Didn't come after me. Left me, just like... Just like... Like what always happens." He struggled not to let the pain overtake his face, or be too obvious. He was successful, on the most part, but enough showed to twist my heart and soul into painfully tight little knots.

 

"I'd do anything for you, Murdock. Anything. I thought you knew that… I thought you knew." His voice had dropped to barely a whisper by the time his words ran down.

 

Removing one of my hands, I moved it up to his cheek and caressed it. He allowed the action, but made no other response to the touch. I dropped my hand away after a moment. "Facey, I do trust you. You're the one person in the entire universe I trust the most."

 

He blinked, raised his eyebrows, and closed his eyes briefly. "Then why?" he asked again, opening his beautiful blue-green eyes as he spoke. They were large and pain filled and gorgeous.

 

"I don't know, Facey. I just know I was wrong. Really, really, badly wrong. I thought our relationship was complicatin' things, makin' it harder for me to focus. But these few days have made me realize how wrong that is."

 

I paused, just for a moment, to search his confused eyes, before continuing.

 

"Face, without you is the complication. With you, it's completion. You complete me, Face and... and I was too damn blind to see it. Too scared to feel it. Too needy to know you are, have been, and always will be, just what I need."

 

His hand was definitely grasping mine now, nearly painfully in fact, although his expression remained fixed and unmoving on his face, his storm-tossed ocean blue eyes frozen on mine.

 

"I was wrong, Face, really, really wrong. Can you forgive me? Please, you gotta forgive me! I take back every damn stupid thing I've said. You complete me, Face. Without you, there's an empty Face shaped hole inside my soul. And it's a deep, dark, roaring Black Hole, that's suckin' my soul right away without you there to prevent it."

 

As I spoke the words, to my shock, 'cause it's so rare, a single tear overflowed one of his brimming eyes to run down the side of his face, where it stalled on his chin. He made no move to wipe it away, and I watched in fascination as it dripped to splash silently on the table between us.

 

The tension in his body was intense, like he was forcefully holding everything back.

 

Reaching, I tenderly wiped the wet line of the tear away with my fingers, delicately brushing them over his lips at the same time. His eyes flicked down to my hand, then back to my eyes, as I removed it to place it back with the other holding his hand.

 

"Do you think," he whispered, "if you allow yourself to be sucked into that Black Hole, you might come out on the other side of it, and find you've landed in the universe of my soul?"

 

Stunned, all I could do was stare at him.

 

"You see," he went on softly, "there's a Black Hole raging in my soul as well right now, and I figure, if you test that theory about Black Holes being passageways to other places, and you dove right into yours, maybe, just maybe, you might then end up in my universe... in my soul."

 

Another tear followed the first one down his face. Again, he ignored it.

 

His words ran down, and he cast his eyes down to the table, his long lashes obscuring them.

 

Extracting my hands from his, I gently took his face between them.

 

"Look at me, Templeton," I whispered.

 

Surprised by the use of a name I've rarely ever called him, he raised his eyes, only to fall headlong into mine.

 

"I'm already there, sweetheart."

 

His gorgeous, deep aquamarine eyes grew large and luminous.

 

"I fell through into your dimension a long time ago."

 

They're breathtaking, really.

 

"And I ain't plannin' on movin' out."

 

Leaning in, I kissed him, with sweet tenderness, tasting the salt of his tears on my lips.

 

And the kiss seemed to go on forever.

 

 

Every time you speak
Every time you say the things you say
All the pain you put me through starts to melt away
You say forgive me, you say you're sorry now

Keep talking, I'm listening
Tell it from the heart
Keep talking
The words may lead you back into my arms
Baby make it real
Tell me how you really feel
Keep talking, keep talking, I'm listening

Every time we touch
I can feel it happening again
I can feel the magic coming back again
You say you've changed now
You say you want me back

Tell me all the words I long to hear
Open up your heart and let me feel again

Keep talking, keep talking, I'm listening...

"Keep Talking" © 2002 BMG Limited Australia
Vocals: John Farnham - "The Last Time" album, 2002

 

Finis... :o)

 

Written By:  Casper


First Posted:  May 1, 2003


Other Titles In This Trilogy:


Keep Talking, I'm Listening by Casper

 

 


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