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Breakdown Turnaround

Breakdown Turnaround

by JD Sampson


Rating: NC-17 F/M Slash

Disclaimer: I'm crazy, so I have no idea what I'm doing
Warning: angst, hurt and comfort, F/M Slash

Summary: A sequel to Backwoods Breakdown, it's Face's turn to deal when Murdock has a bad experience at the VA.




"I need to make a phone call."


The nurse didn't even lift her eyes off the report she was writing.  "I'm sorry, Murdock, but you lost your phone privileges for the entire month.  Did you think I didn't know that?"


Murdock laid his chest on the counter and twisted his head so he could look up at her.  "Did I think you didn't know?  I didn't know! No one told me."


Jenny looked up and meet his eyes with an unwavering stare.  "You left the grounds without permission and as a result you lost your phone privileges."


"But that wasn't my fault," he wailed.  "I've only been here five months.  I was confused.  I didn't know I couldn't go to the movies by myself."


"You went to the movies for eight days?"


"It was a film festival.  The whole series of Godzilla movies in Toho-scope.  I came back when it was over."


Jenny twirled around on her stool then got up and went to the filing cabinet at the back of the nurse's station.  Murdock followed.


"Come on, Nurse Jenny, it's an emergency, I swear.  I need to talk to somebody real bad."


"Talk to Dr. Richter."


"No!"  Murdock locked his arms over his chest and put on his best pout.  "He wants me to relive the moments.  Heck, I didn't like living the them in the first place.  Why would I want to re-live them!"


Jenny slammed the file drawer shut and turned toward the pilot.  "Is this about Private Franklin?"


"Maybe…..not…come on sweet cheeks, just a dime.  Give me one dime and I won't bother you for the rest of the….."  Year?  Month?  Week?  "Day.  I promise."


Jenny sighed.  "It's like looking at a Basset hound who just lost his favorite bone."  She shoved her hand into her pocket and drew out a fist full of change.


"Ah, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are a princess."  Murdock chose one dime from the collection of coins then ran before she changed her mind.  He passed up the phone on his own floor, too many mobile misfits there.  He went up one flight to the psychotic wing.  Those looney's were locked up tight.  No wandering the halls on this ward. 


The pay phone was at the end of the hall next to a Sergeant  who threw imaginary hand grenades and a Private who liked to start fires.  Murdock brought the receiver to his ear, dumped in his dime and dialed.  One ring, two rings, three rings…..


"Come on Face, let go of that girl and answer, will you?" The phone was picked up on the fourth ring but it wasn't Face's voice.  It was a woman.  "Oh?  um, I may have the wrong number."


"Who are you looking for?"


Murdock hesitated.  What name was Face using these days? He couldn't remember.  "Um…blond guy, lots of teeth, like a piranha."


"Toby?  He was watching my house while I was away but he's gone now."


"Gone?  Did he leave another number?"


"No, sorry.  Can't help you there."


Murdock hung up the phone without another word.  Damn him.  How could he move without leaving a number.  Murdock picked up the phone again and dialed zero then waited for the operator to answer.


"Hello, yes, that last call I made was a wrong number.  That was my last dime, could you dial the correct one for me."


"If you like.  What is the number."


Murdock gave her the number to the phone in BA's van.  He rolled with the phone, leaning his back against the wall so he could see the Sgt as he tossed one of his grenades this way.  Murdock picked up the invisible explosive and threw it back at the man.


"I'm sorry sir, but there's no answer on that line."


"Figures."  Murdock slammed the phone down on the hook.  "Where are you, Face?  I need to talk to you.  I need you to get me out of here."  He kicked the wall and lobbed another grenade at the Sgt.  Grabbing the phone again, he punched O.  "Operator, the last call I made was a wrong number, could you dial for me?"


"Please deposit ten cents," said the computer voice.


"I don't have ten cents.  Could you just dial for me.  It's an emergency."


"Would you like to make a collect call?" 


"Yes, yes.  That's good." Murdock kicked the wall.  "555-2486, my name is Murdock." 


The phone rang on the other side, then a cheery woman picked up.  "Answering Service, how may I direct your call?"


"I have a collect call from a Mr. Murdock," said the operator.


"I'm sorry," the girl responded, "but we don't take collect calls."  She hung up. 


Murdock slammed the phone down on the hook and kicked the wall a few more times. 

"Hey!"  a voice called from the room next to the phone.  "Got a match?"


"Believe me, if I had one, I'd give it to you!  Burn this place to the ground, Face would show up all sorry when he sees me as a crispy critter."


"I burned this guy in 'Nam," said the Private.  "I covered him with gasoline and set him on fire only he turned out to be my Lieutenant.  Anybody could have made that mistake, right?"


Murdock sighed.  This floor was just a bit too loony, even for him.  Need another plan.  Murdock charged down the hall until he hit the door to the stairwell.  The door opened under the force of his body.  Down one flight but left this time toward the day room.  If it's Tuesday it must be arts and crafts. 



The day room was fairly full of patients and staff along with several old lady volunteers who came to teach crafting while soothing their public consciousness.  They were rich ladies mostly, with time and diamonds on their hands.  Murdock skirted around the edge of the room and dropped down beside Harvey Tucker, a gunner who had spend ¾ of his tour in a POW camp.


"Tuck, my man, I need a favor."


Tucker turned his one good eye on Murdock.  "What kind of favor?"


"I need to get into Doctor Lewis' office for a few minutes.  Think you could get her to come out here and hold her for awhile?"


Tucker smiled a rather nasty smile.  "I'd like to hold her for a long while.  What's in it for me?"


"The satisfaction of knowing you pulled one over on the staff."


"Works for me."  Tucker grabbed his head and fell to the floor with an unearthly scream.


"Subtle.  I like that."  Murdock headed for the door as Tucker began to fight off an entire army of VC.



Murdock slipped into Doctor Lewis' office as soon as the woman was on her way to the day room.  He grabbed the phone and dialed the answering service number then stood there bumping his knee against the desk as he waited for the operator to answer.


"I need to reach John Smith.  It's an emergency," he told the girl.


"I'm sorry but Mr. Smith is filming out of the state.  He does call in for his messages once a day if you'd like to leave your name."


"What?  No!  Yes!  Tell him I need to see Face."


"Excuse me, sir?"


"Just give him that message.  Tell him I can't find Face and I need him right now.  He'll know who it's from.  Just give him the message."  Murdock slammed the phone down then kicked the desk three times in rapid succession.


"No one to talk to?  What's wrong?  All your friends run out on you?"


Murdock sealed his ears with his hands.  "Shut up.  Go away.  I'll find them.  They wouldn't leave me."


Franklin laughed.  "They did leave you.  When things get bad, they always leave you.  That's the way it is." 


Murdock dropped his chin to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut as tight as he could manage.  "Go away.  I don't want to see you anymore."


"Well tough.  You're gonna see me.  Your gonna see the truth."


"No!"  Murdock picked up a mug full of pencils and hurled it in the direction of the voice.  He heard it shatter against the wall but there was no moan of pain.  Damn.  He threw the phone, then a stapler, then a Roldex file.  Each object crashed and smashed but Franklin wouldn't shut up.  "They're my friends.  My family.  They care about me."


"Family!  You have no family.  I had a family for all the good it did me.  Nobody there when I needed them."


"SHUT UP!"  Murdock grabbed a framed photo from the wall and hurled it at the voice.  Then another picture, and a diploma, then the books from the book shelf and a trophy and a vase……he was about to start on the coffee set from the sideboard when they took hold of his arms and pressed him to the floor.  There was a knee in his back and someone sitting on his legs. 


"Let go of me!  Let me up." He tried to wriggle out of their grasp but they were too strong, too well practiced at this sort of thing.  The last thing he felt was a needle sliding into his arm.  Just as well, he thought since there was no one around to talk to.




"Oh please tell me he's here.  Please!"  Face felt a little funny being in uniform again but it was a veteran's hospital after all, stripes and braid commanded much more attention than a simple set of scrubs.


"Who are you looking for?" Asked the floor nurse.


"Murdock, H.M., Captain.  Please tell me he's here."


"Of course he's here.  He's one of our patients." 


"Thank god!"  Face took the nurse by the arm and pulled her closer.  "The whole thing was a mistake from the beginning.  It was Murray H. Docker who volunteered for the experiment, but some how the records got mixed up.  When they found out about the error they let him go but they shouldn't have because he's already been…" Face looked around.  "Contaminated," he whispered.




"He only had a couple of doses before he was let go, so hopefully he isn't contagious."




"You haven't been very close to him, have you?"


"Well, of course!  We all have.  He's a patient.  We bring him his medicine and take his blood pressure."


"Blood pressure!"  Face clutched the woman a little tighter.  "That involves touching his skin, doesn't it?  Oh lordy, lordy, lordy."


"But no one told us!"


"That's because it's top secret.  Oh man, my rear is going to be toast.  I can only hope that I can get him back into the facility in time.  If he's started to deteriorate….."


"That must be it," the nurse said, interrupting.  "He hasn't been himself the last few days.  Just yesterday we caught him trashing a doctor's office.  That's just not like Mr. Murdock.  Usually he's very docile."


Face missed his cue.  He hadn't expected to hear that Murdock was acting up.  Sure Hannibal said that the pilot had left a short but insistent message still….


"I'll take you to him right away."  Shaking Face loose, the nurse led the way down the hall to the first room around the corner.  She found the proper key on her ring, then unlocked and opened the door.


Murdock was lying on his bed but his entire upper body was wrapped in a dirty white strait-jacket.  His thinning hair was sticking out in all directions and his face was beaded with sweat.  Face had to fight hard to stay impassive.  He wanted to run to the pilot's side, free him from the restraints and wrap him in a protective embrace.  Instead, he stood still and hoped that Murdock had the presence of mind to go along with the scam.


"A strait-jacket?  Is he really that much of a threat?"


"We tried using the restraints on the bed, but he's like Houdini.  He was out of them as soon as the tranquilizer wore off.  I better get a wheelchair."  The nurse dashed out the door.


Face took advantage of the moment to let off a little of the angst he was feeling.  "Murdock, are you all right?"


"Kind of fuzzy," he responded.  "They shot me up with something.  Face.  Get me out of this thing."


"I will as soon as we're in the clear."


"You gonna take me outta here?"


"Why do you think I'm here?  Hannibal said you needed to see me."


"I do. I do.  I need a dime."


"What do you need a dime for?"  Face asked, running a soft hand over the pilot's forehead.


"To call you.  I gotta talk to you real bad."


"Here's the chair," the nurse said coming back into the room.  "Sir, do you think I'll catch it?  What symptoms should I look for?"


"I wouldn't worry, nurse.  I believe I got here in time.  Just….if you could….keep this between us.  If anyone found out….well….you know….panic and all that."


"But I can't just release Mr. Murdock without papers."


Face helped Murdock off the bed and into the wheelchair.  "I'll fax them over as soon as I get back to the lab.  You've been ever so helpful.  I'll also send a long a little medical regime that might help…if… should start to feel….woozy.  But I'm sure it won't happen."  Face swung the chair toward the door and prayed for a clean get away.

Part two


Face left the wheelchair and the strait-jacket in the parking lot, then poured Murdock into the car.  The man was like syrup all oozing and sweet.  Instead of sitting in the passenger seat he slid down until his long legs ran out of room.  He tried to solve the problem by putting his feet on the dash, but his legs got tangled and he ended up stuck. 


"You need a bigger car."


"You need shorter legs."  Face climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine.  "Open your window, the fresh air should help straighten you out."


Murdock made a cranking motion with his hand but the window stayed exactly where it was.  "Windows broke."


Face reached over and pushed a button on the arm rest.  The window slid down into the door letting in a rush of approaching fall air.  Not that there was much fall in California but there was a distinct difference when summer was gone for good.  The days were still warm, but the nights were cool especially at the beach. 


"Wait until you see the house I've got," Face said, steering the car out of the lot.  "It's just a half a block away from the ocean. There's a breakfast nook in the back…"


"Nooks are nice."  Murdock tried to rearrange his legs again and ended up with one foot under his butt and the other on the floor.


"The owners took out the dividing walls on the second floor turning it into one large bedroom with a huge walk-in bath.  There's a sliding glass door  and a balcony and at night you can hear the waves."


"Am I gonna hear the waves tonight, Facey?  You gonna let me sleep in your new big bedroom?  Cause I thought you didn't want me around no more."  Murdock took a deep breath and straightened into a more comfortable and normal position.  "When I found out that you had moved and you didn't leave me a number, I thought you didn't want me around."


"Murdock, I tried to leave my new number but the nurse said you weren't allowed to have any phone calls.  What was that all about?"


"Oh, that was my punishment for disappearing when we took on that last job.  They took away my phone privileges.  That's why I haven't called you for weeks."


Face felt a twinge of guilt.  He had assumed that Murdock had simply settled into a routine at the hospital making him feel more secure.  "I didn't realize you were getting in trouble.  We'll have to be more careful about the excuses we use to get you in and out."


"I suppose."  Murdock turned to stare out the window.  "I suppose I have to go back."


"Don't you want to?  I mean, is it that bad?"  That bad?  Face would have kicked himself if he wasn't driving.  The pilot had spent the last 24 hours locked in restraints with drugs being pumped in at regular intervals.  "If you don't want to go back, I'm sure Hannibal can think of something."


"No, it's not so bad.  Always got a roof over my head, the meals are regular and there's bingo on Fridays. If I disappeared for good they'd be looking for me too and then I might not be able to help you guys.  I just need a break for a little bit.  I just need to know there's someone I can talk to when the walls start to melt."


Face reached over and clapped the pilot on the shoulder.  "I am sorry about the phone thing.  Next time I'll be sure you have my number, even if I have to scam my way in to the hospital and write it on the wall."  He turned the car off the freeway and headed west. 


"Besides, if I'm not there on pizza night Squiggy's gonna put anchovies all over George's slice and it's just gonna be a mess." 


Now that sounded more like the Murdock he knew and loved, protector of the weak, defender of the innocent.  Face turned the car once more and came to stop outside a tight row of homes.  "Here we are.  Nice, huh?"


Murdock nodded though Face knew the house was a bit small for the pilot's taste.  Murdock would rather have a sprawling ranch house with plenty of room for horses, dogs, cats, bunnies and assorted insects. 


"Is your head clear?"


"It's better, just a little fuzzy around the edges."  Murdock jumped as Face leaned over to raise the window.  "How long you gonna stay here?"


"At least three months if the military doesn't catch on."  Face hopped out of the car and stood waiting while Murdock slowly climbed out as well.  "Don't worry.  You'll be the first to know when I move.  Believe me, I've learned my lesson."


Murdock slammed the car door then headed up the walk with his head hanging like those bobbing dogs that sit on the back dash.  "I'm sorry to be such a nuisance, Face."


"You're not a nuisance."  Face clapped an arm around the pilot's shoulder and accompanied him to the front door. "And it's not like you haven't ever done anything for me.  It wasn't too long ago that I was crying on your shoulder, remember?"


Remember?  How could he forget?  How many nights had he laid in bed reviewing that night in his mind?  It had happened after their first mercenary mission and Face had been wired beyond belief.  The Lieutenant's exuberance soon faded though with thoughts of 'Nam bringing him down past zero.  Murdock had been there to catch him when he fell.  In the space of a few hours they had gone from buddies sharing a private hell to desperate lovers.  The next morning it was over.  They went on their way to meet Hannibal and BA and neither one of them had mentioned it since.  Never mentioned, but often thought of.


"What's the matter?  You still feeling fuzzy?"


Murdock entered the house, stopping in the hallway like a servant waiting for instructions.


"Make yourself at home.  You want something to eat?"


"Not really."  Murdock glanced up the stairs then passed on the idea and walked toward the back of the house.  The rooms were laid out backwards to his thinking.  The kitchen was in the front and the living room in the back, to make good use of the ocean view he supposed.  And it was a most magnificent view.  The beach was only a throw away and it stretched as far as he could see in either direction.  There were a couple of surfers riding the waves and as he stood there a pair of young women roller skated by.


"So what was so urgent?"


"Huh?"  Murdock tore his eyes off the view and turned to face his friend.  "What?"


"You were determined to talk to me yesterday.  What did you want to talk about?"


FranklinVietnam….how desperately I want to make love to you……


"Something happened at the VA.  I don't really want to talk about it now.  I guess I just needed to hear your voice." Face smiled a soft perplexing smile and it made Murdock's stomach flutter.  "Face, do you ever think about that night in Barstow?"


"Think about it?  I try not to think about it.  I was pretty drunk so most of it is a haze but I know it's not something I'd want to revisit any time soon."


Murdock's flutter turned into a lead weight that sunk to the bottom of his stomach.  "Oh.  Well, yeah…I guess it was kind of dumb.  I mean, I had a few drinks myself and I may not have looked drunk but man I was seriously buzzed."  Murdock sucked in a huge breath then directed his gaze at the pattern in the rug.  "Boy, the funny things that can happen huh?"


"Murdock?"  Face reached out his hand, but the pilot jumped backwards.


"You know, this wasn't really a good idea.  I think you should take me back to the VA.  I'm not feeling very well.  Must be these drugs."  He started for the door but Face caught his arm as he passed.


"Hey, slow down.  We're not going back to the VA.  You're staying here tonight and for as many nights as you need to."


Murdock was shaking his head with a tight snapping motion. "No.  I don't want to stay.  I want to go home.  I want to go back to the hospital."


"Stop!"  He grabbed Murdock's face in his hands and forced him to stay still.  "You're mad at me and I don't know why and I hate that.  What did I miss here?"


Murdock swallowed hard, forcing down a lump that would eventually lead to tears.  "I lied.  I wasn't drunk and I don't think it was dumb.  I thought it was really great and I'm sorry if you can't bear to remember what we did that night."


Face grabbed the pilot by the shoulders.  "There is one thing about that night that I remember very clearly.  I remember how you held me even though I was sticky and hot and likely to throw up all over you.  I remember how you stroked my hair and whispered words and I remember you made me feel things I've never felt before."


Murdock sniffed.  "I love you, Face.  It hurt to see you all broken up inside."


"Exactly.  That's how I feel right now, about you.  You're not yourself.  The nurse told me you trashed a doctor's office.  What for?  You're smarter than that.  Why give them the upper hand?"


"I didn't want to do that but he…..see….there was this Private….Franklin."  Murdock took a deep breath but it stuck in his chest like an under baked donut.  "Can I have a hug?"


Face slung his arms around the tall, lanky pilot and squeezed with all his might.  "God, you're a wreck.  You know we can't keep sobbing in each other's arms, it's just not healthy."


"It beats group therapy.  Man, you think I'm twisted up, you should hear these psychos I room with."


Face broke the hug but he kept his hands on Murdock's upper arms.  "What am I going to do with you?"


"I have a couple of suggestions if you're… to that…."


Face tried to hide the smile that was creeping across his lips.  "Do your suggestions revolve around a particular room in the house?"


"Ummm, yeah."  Murdock's turned his eyes to the floor once more.


Hesitating for a second, Face set his hand under the pilot's chin and lifted until their eyes met.  He licked his lips, leaned in, leaned back, then, finally making the decision he leaned forward and touched his lips to Murdock's.


Murdock slipped his arms around Face, trying to deepen the rather chaste kiss but there was no enjoyment.  Not with Face's words still ringing in his ear. 'it's not something I'd want to revisit soon.'


"You don't have to do this, Face.  I know it's not really your thing and I understand.  I just wanted you to know how I feel."


Face let go and put a good three feet between them.  "Murdock, maybe it's the drugs talking, but I have never heard you sound so….convoluted.  What am I missing?"


"You said you hated thinking about what we did that night.  You said it, just now."  Murdock yelled.


"I did not!  I said, I didn't want to go there again any time soon.  The nightmares, Murdock.  I was talking about those horrid nightmares.  I haven't had a single one since you helped me through them that night.  Don't you get it, you idiot!  I don't have the nightmares because I'm not alone anymore.  Even when you're at the VA, I know you're with me and when I feel lonely and scared I just call you.  That's why I called you last week.  It wasn't just to say, hey I moved.  It was to say, hey, I've got to scam a new place and pretend to be a new person and I just wanted to talk to you and I felt this ache because you hadn't called me in more than two weeks.  So , how about that!"


"Really?  You aren't just making this up, are you?"


Face closed the gap between them.  "Really."  He covered Murdock's mouth with his but this was no chaste kiss.  This time he pulled at the other man like a hungry kitten in search of milk.  He sent his tongue searching while his hands ran across the pilot's back.  Breaking the kiss, Face took a moment to line-up the words he wanted to say.  Murdock carried his feelings barely below the skin and today he seemed more fragile than ever.  "Come on.  I want you to see my view."


"I saw your view."  Murdock said, motioning toward the window.


"Ah that's nothing.  Come on."  Face led the way down the hall and up the stairs to the second floor.  As soon as they reached the center of the bedroom Murdock's eyes grew wide.


"Wow.  It's like….it's like flying."  The pilot ran to the long expanse of glass that took up nearly one whole wall.  Beyond the glass was a churning ocean and a sky that went from firey red to an amazing shade of purple at the water line.  "It's beautiful."


"Yeah, I think so to."  Face came to join him at the window.  "It's a shame I can't stay here forever."


Murdock wrapped his arms around the younger man and pulled him backwards against his chest.  "Someday, Facey.  We'll beat this bad rap and you'll have a house just like this.  Only with two bedrooms so I can come and live with you."


"And for that I need two bedrooms?"


Murdock wiggled his fingers against Face's side eliciting a convulsive giggle.


"Stop.  That tickles.  I hate to be tickled."


"Really?"  He bent forward, forcing Face to do the same.  "I think you like it."  He tickled some more until Face could hardly breath from laughing.  "I think that you are way too serious and I love to hear you laugh."


"No, no, stop.  Really."  Face wriggled his way out from under Murdock's grip then spun around with hopes of getting the upper hand.  It wasn't going to happen.  Face had the arm muscles but Murdock was taller, faster and sneakier.  The exchange of places tuned into a wrestling match which ended with the two of them crashing down on the king sized bed. 


"Well, lookee here," said Face.  "You got me right where you want me."  He was lying half on the bed with Murdock's hands firmly planted on either side of his shoulders.  In an instant the smile disappeared from the pilot's face as something deep and far away took over his big brown eyes.  "Stay with me, Murdock.  Don't get lost."


"It's hard sometimes.  I get so confused."  Murdock started to back away but Face grabbed a hold of his shirt and pulled him closer. 


"I'm always here for you, Murdock.  If you need an ear, a friend, a hug; don't ever be afraid to tell me." Lifting his head from the mattress, Face kissed him once more.  It was the last bit of encouragement Murdock needed.  The pilot crawled up on to the bed leaving room for Face to swing his legs up off the floor.  They laid beside each other, silent for a few minutes, Murdock on his side with his head propped on one hand.  "You want to tell me what happened?" asked Face.


Murdock shook his head and his entire body wavered with the motion.  "You know you have beautiful eyes.  They smile even when your lips are frowning.  I always feel better when I can see your eyes."  He draped his free hand over Face's chest and began absently fingering the buttons of the white shirt. 


Face moved his left hand just a few inches but that was all it took to make contact.  It was such a simple thing but it gave him a jolt that he hadn't expected.  He remembered making love that night in the motel, but he hadn't given it another thought since then.  There had been a number of women in his bed since that night, or he in theirs to be more accurate.  Women filled his need to be held and touched, the sex was just the price you paid, all he really craved was the closeness.  Yet night after night, woman after woman, he had come away feeling even emptier than he had going in.  Now, here, he had a strange feeling that it wouldn't be like that at all.


With very little effort, he knotted his fingers in Murdock's flannel shirt and pulled it loose from his pants.  The T-shirt that the pilot wore underneath came away as well, leaving a patch of skin just waiting to be touched.


Murdock was doing equally well with the buttons on Face's shirt.  With the top four undone he was able to slip his hand beneath the fabric. 


Face shivered when he felt the pad of one finger caressing his hardening nipple.  Almost involuntarily, his eye lids slipped shut as his mouth dropped open.  He felt the warmth approaching, then his mouth was captured by voracious lips and a wandering tongue.  Face abandoned the slim path of skin and moved his hand around to Murdock's back, urging the pilot to come closer.   Keeping his eyes closed, Face concentrated on the electric rush that was taking over his body and the fireworks that were exploding in his mind.  The weight of a body came down on his chest, then a hand cupped his groin through the fabric of his clothes.


"Oh god, I want……" But it was too hard to form words. 


"Hang on.  I need to get rid of this."


Face opened his eyes to see Murdock throwing off his flannel shirt, then wriggling the T-shirt up and over his head.  There was a jungle of dark curly hair on the pilot's chest.  Without it you would undoubtedly be able to see the outline of the pilot's ribs.  He was so painfully thin, thinner than the last time, Face thought and it gave him a moment's worry.


"Damn it.  I can't get these buttons."


"What?"  It took a second for Face to realize what was happening.  Murdock was trying to undo the buttons at the cuffs of the dress shirt but the pilot was shaking to much to manage the small task.  "Let me.  I've had some practice at this."  He hadn't meant it to sound so brash but it came out that way and he immediately saw the hurt on his friend's face.  "I wear dress shirts more often than you do," he said, trying to soften the blow.


"Yeah, I don't get to dress up very often.  Not much call for that at the VA."


Face undid the buttons, then sat up so he could slip out of the shirt.  Unlike the skinny pilot, Face's chest was muscular and well defined.  As soon as he was free of the clothing, Murdock pushed him back to the bed and set a line of kisses over one taut bicep. 


"You are so beautiful.  It's a shame, the way you hide behind those suits."  A few of the kisses turned into playful bites and soon Face was squirming beneath him once more.  Murdock changed direction, rising up over one shoulder, over the sharp line of the collar bone and down to the center of Face's chest. 


"This isn't fair," Face said, his voice soft and breathy.  "You're doing all the work."


"S'okay.  I want to."  He moved down another few inches stopping when he ran out of skin.   Face reached to undo his own belt, but Murdock pushed his hands away.  "I want to do it."  Again he slipped his hand between the other man's thighs, caressing him through the fabric. 


Face arched his back, lifting his hips from the bed.  How could this be?  They had barely touched each other but he was already aching for release.  It was never this fast.  It was never this easy.  He felt the tug of the buckle, then the sudden feel of freedom as the hook was undone. 


"I've been planning every step in my mind since that night, planning what I would do to you if I had the chance."


Do TO you?  The phrasing made Face shiver and it was delicious.  "Tell me.  Tell me what you planned."  The bed dipped as Murdock shifted his position once more.  A couple of tugs and Face's pants were gone leaving him naked and open and vulnerable.  That thought made him tingle and the tingle made his cock twitch. 


"Mind of his own," Murdock muttered then took the length in his mouth.


Face nearly screamed at the unexpected sensation.  His hand shot out searching for contact but Murdock had moved out of his reach.  "I can't touch you…." Any additional words were lost in the haze that filled his brain as Murdock's tongue caught the ridge.  One free hand massaged the sack beneath his cock while the other rested on his stomach.  Face reached out once more and this time he caught Murdock by the wrist.  "Come here.  Please.  You're driving me crazy."


"That's the idea."


"No.  Not yet."  Face sat up suddenly catching Murdock before he could go down again.  "I want some of that."  He pushed the pilot back on to the bed and got to his knees beside him. 


"You gonna hang a flag on that?"  Murdock laughed at the sight of Face's stiffened cock. 


"Never mind you."  Face undid Murdock's belt along with the snap and the zipper of his pants.  Women's clothes were so much simpler.  Skirts and dresses could be lifted and pants came off with a single tug.  Face slipped his hand down inside Murdock's pants, then wrapped his hand around the pilot's growing shaft.  "How's this?"


Murdock's brown eyes took on a glossy glaze as a lazy smile crossed his lips.  "Not tight enough."


"Is that so?" Face squeezed a little harder expecting to draw a cry of pain but Murdock seemed unfazed by the maneuver.  "Tough guy, huh?"  Removing his hand, Face straddled the other man settling himself over Murdock's groin.  He road him for a moment, then fell forward so they were chest to chest and mouth to mouth.  The sucked at each other, twisting and turning trying so hard to get more, deeper, closer, aching to be one. 


"Oh Face, I've been thinking about this every night.  I've been dying for you, dying."  Murdock got his hand between them and circled Face's engorged cock with his fingers. 


Face began to pump his hips, using the friction created by the other man's hand to bring himself to the brink.  He was in such a fog, he forgot himself, where he was and who he was with.  His natural instincts took over.  She'd be wet and waiting for him to slip inside.  The warmth of her, the tightness and the smell of arousal would all work together to elicit the most explosive kind of orgasm. 


"Face?  What the matter?"


"What?"  He lost his concentration and with it the edge.  This wasn't a woman beneath him.  There was no soft, wet womb waiting to envelope him.  "I'm sorry."  Face tumbled to the bed, then quickly rolled to his stomach to hide his disappointment.  "Too much anticipation I guess."


"I guess."  Murdock swung his legs off the bed, but Face caught his arm and pulled him back.


"Don't go.  Just lay here with me.  Please."


Murdock laid back down as he let out a giant sigh. 


"That's not how it was in your dream.  I know."  Face scooted over a bit so he could drape his arm across the pilot's bare chest.  "I'm sorry.  Something happened.  I got distracted."


"It's not your fault.  I was expecting too much."  Murdock tipped his head toward the wall of glass.  In a short amount of time, the sky had gone from orange to purple and the room had dimmed and would soon be black.  "Just give me a couple of minutes to get cleaned up and you can take me back to the VA."


It was Face's turn to sigh.  "Murdock.  I'm not taking you back to the VA.  You're staying here.  Right here, in this bed with me.  I don't want to be alone."


"Me neither."  Murdock rolled off the bed and stood up.  "I'm just going to the bathroom.  I'll be right back."


"Okay, but if you're not back in five minutes, I'm going to come looking for you."


"Is that a promise?"  Murdock turned to waggle his eyebrows at Face but the dimness of the room made it difficult to see.  It got dark so quickly these days, not like in 'Nam where the daylight seemed to stretch on for weeks at a time.  He crossed the soft carpet, enjoying the feel of the pile beneath his feet, mistook a walk in closet for the bathroom, then found it on the second try.  Like everything else in the house, the bathroom was huge.  The floor was carpeted, there was a double sink made of black marble.  The right-hand corner was taken up by a roman tub and a shower stall filled the opposite corner.  A long length of mirror covered the wall above the sink and Murdock was shocked when he flicked on the light and saw his own self reflected back.  His thinning hair was sticking out in all directions and his skin looked like Silly Putty.  Stepping closer to the mirror he examined his eyes and determined that those two were ugly.


"No wonder Face couldn't keep it up.  Like making love to Frankenstein."  Murdock made a face then responded to himself by sticking out his tongue. Sighing loudly, Murdock pushed his pants down over his hips and let them fall around his ankles.  He stepped out and kicked them away then gave himself another good look. "And for this I expect him to give up girls?"


He turned on the tap and splashed a handful of water on his face.  The cold snap felt good and he gave the Roman tub some thought.  There was plenty of room for two in that tub. Plenty of room.  "Forget it, sucker."  He turned to the shower stall and yanked open the door. 



Face was drifting to sleep on a sexual downer when he heard Murdock scream.  Actually, scream.  Not a yell or a shout of surprise.  It was as if he were being brutally murdered.  Scrambling off the bed, Face ran to the bathroom half expecting to find the pilot on the floor with a straight razor at his wrist.  Instead he found him standing, naked, staring at an empty shower stall.


"Murdock.  What happened?"


"Can't you see him?"


Face scanned the bathroom looking for some sign of 'him'.  A spider maybe? Or a mouse?  He had seen women frozen in fear over a daddy long legs.  "Where is he?"


Murdock pointed straight ahead.  "He's right there.  In the shower.  You see him don't you?"


Face set a hand on the pilot's shoulder but Murdock shook him off. 


"Do you see him?"


Lie or tell the truth?  Face wondered which would be more damaging.  He decided on neither here nor there.  "Who is it?"


"It's Franklin.  God damn it.  He won't leave me alone!  It's not my fault.  I did the best I could.  Why won't he leave me alone!"


"Let's go back into the bedroom."  Again Face tried to slip his arm around the pilot's shoulders and again Murdock pushed him away.


"You don't see him.  Do you?  Do you?" he wailed.


"No, Murdock.  I don't.  I'm sorry but all I see is an empty shower."


Murdock closed his eyes and cleared his mind but when he opened them again it was just the same.  There was Private Franklin hanging from a noose he had made out of the fabric belt from a robe.  His face was bloated and his tongue was hanging out but his eyes were open and they saw Murdock.  They saw him and they recognized him as the one who should have done more.


"Let's go."  Face took Murdock by the arm and began to pull him from the room.  It took several tugs to get him going, but finally the pilot complied.




"Tell me about it."


Murdock was sitting on the bed, his back to the headboard and a pillow across his raised knees.  Face was sitting cross-legged beside him with a section of the quilt draped across himself. 


"Private Franklin was admitted to the VA a couple of weeks ago.  He was so young, Face and his whole family came with him that first day, his mom and dad and a little sister.  I don't think he knew what was happening.  He thought he'd see the doctors and then he'd go home.  It was his first week back after leaving the jungle and he thought he'd be sleeping in his old room by night but his parents signed the papers and he had to stay.  It hurt him.  It really hurt him and he was so scared.  You think 'Nam is bad, it's nothing compared to the first time they lock the door to your room or you use the bathroom with a nurse watching.  See you don't really think you're crazy, especially when you see the other nut balls.  Franklin couldn't see that he needed to be there.  He had killed one of the guys in his platoon by accident so he convinced himself that they were all gook spies out to get him.  He was a nice kid and he would have been all right.  I told him, the first weeks are the hardest.  I tried to show him the ropes and teach him how to fake out the pill pushers and scam extra chocolates from the janitors at night.  I thought he was going to be all right."


Murdock shifted his position, sliding farther down so his head connected with the headboard.  "Thursday night, I was feeding Grady his dinner.  He tried to disable a land mine in 'Nam and had both of his arms blown off so somebody has to feed him."


Face shivered.  "Why were you feeding him?  Don't they have people who are paid to do that?"


"Oh sure.  There are attendants and nurses but they're real busy so they just shovel the food in his mouth like he was some kind of garbage disposal.  They don't talk to him or anything.  I mean, he's not as sharp as he used to be but that's no reason to just stick a spoon in his mouth without saying something, don't you think?"


Face tried to hold back a smile that he thought would be inappropriate.  Only Murdock would be concerned about the humanity in such a situation.   Murdock, the champion of the weak and the defender of the oppressed.  "I think they're lucky to have you around."


"Yeah well, he wasn't too happy with me or the meal, mostly the meal, mushroom surprise.  He lifted his knees and dumped the tray on me covering me in what ever all they put in mushroom surprise.  What he had left in his mouth he spit in my face. It was a mess."


Face could well imagine.  In the same situation he would have been furious, not to mention grossed out but he knew without hearing it that Murdock took the assault in stride.


"I figured the best thing to do was to go jump in the shower, clothes and all.  It was kind of late and that part of the hall was all quiet.  I walked into the bathroom, rounded the corner of the shower and there he was, Franklin, hanging by his neck from the pipes in the ceiling.  I told him that the first weeks were the hardest.  I told him it would all get better if he just relaxed a little.  I told him but still he blamed me."


"What?  Blamed you?"


"He won't let me alone, Face.  He wants me to join him.  He says there's nothing for me here.  He blames me and he wants me to die."


That last sentence grabbed Face around the throat and squeezed. Die?  "Murdock, he's wrong.  You have everything to live for.  I know things are kind of bad right now, but you're young.  You'll get over this problem and we'll get that pardon and we'll have really good lives together."


Murdock sighed.  "Sometimes I think I'm just fooling the doctors.  Sometimes I think it's just a game I made up to get out of 'Nam when they took you guys away.  I didn't get to say goodbye before they arrested you.  I couldn't let you go without saying goodbye.  Then I see things like Franklin and scorpions on my wall and shadows that eat little children and I'm not sure it's just a game anymore."


"Oh god."  Face crawled up beside Murdock and pulled the him into his arms.  The pilot's head touched his shoulder and then he felt the wetness of tears on his skin.  "It's gonna get better.  I promise you, it's going to get better and if you ever try to do anything to hurt yourself, I swear I will come and beat your head against a wall and BA and Hannibal, they'll shake the living hell out of you boy.  I'd miss you so much and I'd be so damn angry, I'd never let you rest in peace."


"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"  Murdock lifted his head bringing his deep brown eyes in line with Face's baby blues.  "Cause that was sort of evil sounding."


"Yeah, like the nun's used to say, if you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don't come crying to me."  He ran his hand over Murdock's unruly locks smoothing hair and soothing nerves in one motion.  "If that Private Franklin comes back again, you send him over to see me.  He can't have you.  I saw you first."


"I told him that," Murdock said softly.  "I told him, but then you didn't come see me and then you moved.  He told me that you didn't care. That as time went on, you'd come to see me less and less until finally I'd be all alone, always."


"Never, God Murdock, you have to believe me.  I know I get caught up in life sometimes.  And I think about all the time, you – in there – but see, out here isn't always better.  Watching out for the military, scamming, always afraid you'll say the wrong thing to the wrong person.  I may lock my own door at night, but I'm no freer than you are."


Murdock's burrowed deeper into Face's arms, then he shivered.  "I'm scared Face."


"Me too, buddy.  But we'll get through this, together.  Private Franklin be damned."


"No," Murdock said, his head shaking against Face's chest.  "He was a nice guy.  He just. . . got lost, that's all."


Face set his fingers under Murdock's chin then lifted so they could look each other in the eye.  "Murdock, if you ever get lost, all you need to do is stay there and wait for me.  I'll come and find you.  I promise."


Murdock smiled.  "My own personal Rand McNally."


"Complete with points of interest, rest stops, and National Parks."


That make Murdock laugh and did Face's heart good.  "I think I'd like to check out some of those points of interest you mentioned."


"Really?"  Face shifted his weight so that they both went crashing down on to the bed pillows.  "Then let me show you the scenic route."


"The scenic route?'


"Sure.  It takes longer but then isn't getting there is half the fun."



The End.


Backwoods Breakdown by JD Sampson
Breakdown Turnaround by JD Sampson



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