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Of Gossamer Dreams and Christmas Wishes
Author/Copyright: © 2003 Casper
Author's Web Site: http://www.geocities.com/isabelsparlour
Type: Light SLASH/Angst
Chronology: Christmas Eve 1984
Summary: Face is finding it difficult to live and feel the Christmas spirit. Can Murdock help him?
Warnings/Content: Contains very light male/male SLASH. Also: childhood memories, lots of snow, sap, angst, general sweetness and fantasy like elements.
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 belong solely to Universal, Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell, and I thank them for their existence.
Thanks & Acknowledgments: With great thanks to Pam for Beta reading the original story, and for creating and suggesting the title. Thank you, Pam! :o) Very deep thanks also go to Karen Davis for Beta reading this revised version. Thank you, Karen! :o)
Accompanying End Article: "Yes
Comments: YES, please. :o)
"Of GOSSAMER DREAMS and CHRISTMAS WISHES"
CHRISTMAS EVE 1984
Face sat alone in the attic of the big old farmhouse, next to a large arched window. Outside, snow drifted in lazy circles to the ground, coating the yard and fields with a carpet of fine white powder, turning the surrounding countryside into a picture postcard of breathtaking beauty. He saw none of this, however. His thoughts were instead turned inward, fighting, as they often did this time of year, with his memories, with his pain, even with loneliness and longing.
Longing for so much.
God, but he hated Christmas sometimes. The exaggerated hype of it. The commercialism. The fleeting caring people professed for each other. The fly-by-night charities with their causes of the month. The colorful decorations. The Christmas carols.
Just about everything.
Most especially, he hated Santa Claus, or to be more exact, the whole idea of Santa Claus.
So deep in thought was he that he didn't hear the soft steps behind him, was oblivious to the other presence now in the room. He went on staring with sightless intensity out the window, lost in his past.
Still no response.
The speaker touched him lightly on the arm.
"Faceguy? You in there?"
He jerked a fraction then shivered.
obvious, darlin'." Murdock studied him
thoughtfully for a moment, a small smile on his face, his brown eyes radiating
warmth. "Why don't you come on down 'n join us, Face," he suggested,
his voice warm and cajoling. "The
Face stared up at Murdock and fought down the raising panic he could feel growing stronger and stronger the more words his partner poured out. Swallowing, he gave himself a mental shake then turned back to the window, unconsciously dislodging the hand resting on his arm.
"No... uh, no... I ah... want to stay up here for a bit longer. I'll come down later," he responded, his soft, subdued voice emitting a wispy cloud of dissipating warmth into the chilly air. An almost imperceptible quiver ran through his slim form and he clasped his hands around his upper arms, rubbing them through the thin, inadequate, fine woollen sweater, his fingers trembling.
With a faint sigh, Murdock looked around the attic. It was surprisingly well ordered and had obviously at one time been a child's bedroom, if the toys scattered about here and there were anything to go by. Little of the toasty warmth from the lower rooms filtered into this part of the house, however, and the air temperature had a definite bite to it. His eyes came to rest on just what he needed, a pile of folded blankets resting on a bed sitting against one wall. Walking over, he grabbed one off the top and shook it out, suppressing a sneeze when a fine dusty mist wafted up his nose. Taking it back over to Face, he draped it around the cold shoulders, a frown of worried concern creasing his brow.
Face pulled the enveloping folds around his body and hunched down inside the blanket, attempting to trap some additional warmth within. He hoped Murdock would leave soon. He just wanted to be alone. Needed to be alone. To his dismay, he heard the pilot dragging over an old chair and setting it beside him. Then flinched at the creak when, without saying anything further, Murdock settled down on it with a quiet rustle of clothing.
For several long minutes, the silence stretched between them, becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Every now and then, Face rearranged his grip with a flutter of nervous fingers entwined in the folds of the blanket, and flicked his gaze Murdock's way, only to shift it away again quickly when it looked like their eyes might make contact.
"Want to talk, Faceguy?" Murdock asked gently, after a while.
Face shrugged, glancing at Murdock under lowered lashes, and then looked back to the window to stare unseeing out of it once more.
That caught his attention. Face looked around in surprise at his warmly smiling partner, this time not looking immediately away again.
"That's better, darlin'," Murdock murmured, just in time stopping himself from reacting with any outward sign to the raw, aching pain he could perceive within the deep aquamarine eyes.
"Murdock..." Face drifted the word off, looking away from him again, his eyes shadowed.
"What is it, Face, what's bothering you?" Murdock prodded, his voice gentle.
He hoped Face would open up and let him know what was going on with him. Of course, he had a fair idea already. Some years, the whole concept of Christmas just seemed to get to Face. Almost every year was the same. During those years when Face just could not seem to get into the Yuletide Spirit, he either moaned or complained about the expense of Christmas, about the frequent lack of jobs they got over Christmas, at the crowds in the stores, or at the commercialism and so on. Or he went quiet and withdrawn, often disappearing for several days, then reappearing on Christmas Eve, looking neat and sharp as always, with nothing but dark circles under his eyes to testify to having had a rough few days. Murdock had little idea where Face went over those days, although he suspected he probably went to visit the Sacred Heart Orphanage where he grew up. In spite of the military threat, he had always retained close ties with his former home and with Monsignor Magill and Father O'Mally.
In the first few years after they had rediscovered their love for each other again in mid-1980, the Christmas days they had shared together had been magical - full of great love, good cheer and tender togetherness. Then last year --the culmination of a difficult year for them both-- had seen the restlessness returning. That year had seen their relationship come close to breaking down, and together they'd had to work at restoring their equilibrium and, for Face, his total trust in their union again.
Then right before Christmas, Face had disappeared for almost a week, leaving Murdock frantic with worry. That was, until Monsignor Magill had called him during the second day, just to let him know that Face was with him, safe at the orphanage, helping them with the kids, and not to worry. Five or six days later, when Face had turned up late on Christmas Eve, at the secluded woodland bungalow he had scammed for them for the holidays, he had avoided disclosing to them where he had been. Without a second thought, Murdock had decided not to tell him about Monsignor Magill getting in touch, wanting instead to respect his partner's right to, and need for, privacy.
Now this year, the restlessness in Face was even more pronounced. It was so bad, it approached full on depression, and that worried Murdock to a considerable degree. The past six months had been, if possible, worse than the year before, and they had taken an enormous emotional and physical toll on Face, who was still not completely fit, even now.
About three months before, Face had been shot and had come close to dying on a mission gone disastrously wrong. Almost dying, coupled with weeks and months of illness and recovery, had left Face with an almost pale shade of his former skills and abilities, as well as a little more edgy and restless than he had ever been before. Only now was he beginning to regain his former fitness levels, although he still had to be careful not to over do it, especially in altercations with crooks and thugs.
It therefore, had not really surprised Murdock when Face started showing signs of climbing the walls and wanting to get away. Not from their relationship, Murdock felt sure that was not it. He was pretty certain Face was simply over tired and fed up with the never ending, frustrating cycle of life on the run, of restricted freedoms and constant dangers, and of never being able to have a single place to settle down and call home.
As a consequence, the misery he had woken up to see in his lover's eyes that morning had left Murdock feeling scared for his wellbeing, and with the determination not to leave Face alone that day, where and when possible. In spite of his good intentions, however, Face had given him the slip again and again that afternoon. Every time he glimpsed his attractive partner, he had seemed to melt into his surroundings and disappear, using his old commando skills to easily evade Murdock.
The hours spent looking for Face after lunch, had been spurred on by Murdock's nagging fear for him. The search driven by his growing apprehension at the misery and depression he had perceived in his partner that morning. Murdock had not wanted to spook Face, but he did not like the thought of him alone and brooding, especially not when he was so miserable and so, he had continued looking. The breathless relief he felt upon entering the attic to find Face simply sitting quietly by the large old window, watching the snow falling in frosty spirals outside, had been close to dizzying.
He brought his attention back to Face, aware his thoughts had drifted off further than he had intended.
"Yeah, muchacho?" Murdock smiled, encouraging and waited for him to speak further. Face, however, was looking out the window again, his face in profile revealing nothing to him.
"Do you believe in Santa Claus, HM?" he then asked quietly after a few moments, not changing his position.
Murdock felt an instant urge to laugh, startled and amused that Face had asked the question in present tense, almost as he would have done if they had been six years old. Suppressing the reaction - knowing it was the complete wrong time - he instead allowed a broad, delighted smile and spread his arms out wide.
"Hey, Faceguy, look at who you're talkin' to. It's me, Murdock. I've got an invisible dog named Billy. I've been the Range Rider, Captain Cab and Pasadena Murdock, to name a few. I've got a pet sock named Socky. 'Course I believe in Santa Claus. You better believe it, darlin'!" He did laugh then with sheer delight... delight at just being alive, at being here with Face, and at the small tentative smile now playing across the features of his life partner, who had turned to face him.
The smile faded all too quickly, though, and Face looked down at his hands where they were clutched within the folds of the blanket. "Yeah, well..." He drew in a breath, and gave a short nervous sounding half laugh. "You see, um, I don't. Never ah... never have, you know, HM." He paused for a moment. "Heh..." He expelled a sharp breath, and tuned his head away, a slight mocking smile on his lips. "It's funny, you know, I never felt any reason to believe. Not even back then, when most kids did." Shivering, Face drew the blanket in around his shoulders some more and turned back to the window again. "Just didn't have a reason to believe," he finished with a soft sigh.
Moved by the wistful sorrow, Murdock blinked away sudden tears, not wanting to frighten Face off with them.
The silence stretched out again, a little more companionable this time.
Murdock thought about the elderly couple downstairs. A bunch of thugs from the neighboring farm had been hassling them, trying to run them off so that the owner could buy their property dirt-cheap and add more acreage to his own.
The team had been passing through a small town not too far distant, when they had witnessed the couple being harassed. Face had been the first across the street when they emerged from the local general store and witnessed one of the thugs knocking the little old lady down. He had helped her back up on to her feet and dusted her off, while the rest of them had taught the goons a thing or two about manners and sent them on their way, nursing various minor injuries.
Meanwhile, the elderly couple had been telling Face all about their plight. The upshot of it was that they had ended up coming to stay at the old couple's farm and then successfully running off the bad guys, who were now languishing in the local jail. A somewhat painless job, really, and what's more, there had been no sign of the military. A Christmas miracle, if Murdock had ever seen one.
Ma and Pa Anderson - as the couple had insisted the team call them - had invited them to stay for Christmas. It was only a couple of days away anyway, the couple had told them, and since their children - a son and a daughter, who lived up in Canada with their respective families - would be unable to join them that year, they would love to have the team stay on. They had all agreed, except for Face, who had been the only reluctant voice, moaning about the need to move on, the danger of staying in one spot for so long, and about wanting to go home to Los Angeles for Christmas. He had been quite agitated about it, in fact.
Murdock wondered if maybe he had been hoping to spend this Christmas at the orphanage with Monsignor Magill and Father O'Malley, as well as the Sisters, and of course, the kids... at the only home he had ever known all his young life. Quite likely, in fact, Murdock surmised. It would go part way to explaining his initial deep agitation at the invitation to stay.
Face had been out voted and had, of course, backed down, all the while groaning something about their strained financial resources, the military, and being in the middle of nowhere.
That had been yesterday. This morning, Christmas Eve, Face had woken up quiet and withdrawn, eventually disappearing after lunch. Although Murdock had searched the whole house nearly top to bottom, then the entire yard three times, he had only managed to catch glimpses of Face here and there, before he eventually disappeared altogether. When it finally occurred to Murdock to ask Ma Anderson about potential hiding places, she suggested the old attic bedroom, which he had not thought to look in. Wanting to make sure, he had left the others finishing off the tree and the decorations, and raced right on up the stairs to find Face sitting in the small, cold room, motionless, as if he were carved from marble.
Even now, Face continued to gaze out the window. Outside the snow was getting thicker, inside the air temperature more chilly. He did not seem to notice, though. He appeared to be miles away.
Finally, Face drew in another sharp breath. "What was Christmas like for you, HM?" he asked, so quietly, Murdock had to lean in to hear him.
Murdock smiled, remembering. "Oh, just wonderful, Faceguy. We did the whole bit, y'know. Christmas with all the trimmin's. Mom and Dad made sure of it." His smile turned a little sad. "Then Mom died, and Dad... well, Dad didn't seem too into it for a few years, y'know. But Grandma and Grandpa, they sure did make up for it. Made sure we had a real great Christmas, no matter what."
Face turned and met Murdock's gaze with sad eyes. "I almost forgot your Mom died when you were little." His voice was tinged with sorrow and regret. "I'm sorry." He went to turn away again, but leaning in towards him, Murdock reached forward and took his hands, loosening them from the folds of the blanket, clasping them warmly within his own.
Letting go of one, Murdock lifted his hand to lightly caress Face on one cool cheek. "It's okay, darlin'," he half murmured, "it was a long time ago now. What's buggin' you?" He drew the fingers tenderly down the cheek then dropped his hand back down to gently caress those resting in his partner's lap.
"Murdock, do you remember your Mother?" Face asked, with softly spoken curiosity.
Murdock's smile brightened, his thoughts turning inward. "Yeah, mostly. She was the best, y'know, Faceman. She used to sing to me, play games with me, and hold me when I hurt myself. She smelled so good, like roses. She got sick an' died when I was five. Those five years, they'd been the best of my life. After that, things got kinda tough. Dad took it real hard, y'know. Grandma and Grandpa looked after me mostly. Then Dad died when I was a teenager, and they took over completely. It wasn't an easy life, but it wasn't hard, neither. They gave me a good life; got no regrets, Faceguy... none at all!"
Face fought down the surprising pain the story caused him. He was happy for Murdock, of course. More than happy that he had had everything he had needed, in spite of the loss of his parents. He just could not help wishing... but then, wishing had rarely gotten him anywhere over the years. He had always found it a pointless exercise. He believed in going out and grasping things, rather than wishing for them. Maybe that was part of what made him such a good conman. The ability to get or obtain anything any of them needed at any time. Proactive. But then, the skill had never been able to give him the one thing he had always so badly desired... had always dreamed of for as long as he could remember.
"I don't remember my mother," he whispered, after another long silence. "I try sometimes, you know. Try to see if I can remember anything at all about her. Her voice. Her smell. Her touch. But there's so little, just scattered, unconnected memories... so little." He drew in another shaky breath. "All I have is this old crucifix, and a vague memory of it belonging to my mother, and little else."
Face touched the place under his clothing where his mother's antique marcasite crucifix rested, like a small patch of warmth against his skin, his thoughts turned inward, introspective, a slight sad smile on his lips.
"I don't remember anything about the first five years of my life before the orphanage," he continued. "I don't even know how I came to be wandering alone out in the rain, or why and how I'd been hurt, nothing about the accident they say I must have been in. My memories are even vague about being rescued, of the hospital, then going to the orphanage and Father Magill. I couldn't even remember my name. They told me it was traumatic amnesia, that maybe someday, if I was lucky, the memories would return. They never have. Not so far. The priests named me Alvin Brenner, but when I was fourteen, I asked them to legally change it to Templeton Arthur Peck, 'cause I liked the sound of that better. It had a sophisticated ring to it, and I liked that. Alvin had never suited who I was, Templeton did. Don't ask where I got it from, I can't remember anymore."
He tightened his hold around Murdock's hands, the grip just shy of painful, his eyes downcast. Murdock allowed the grasp without complaint, feeling deep concern for his partner's state of mind.
"I just wish sometimes that I could remember her, just a little," Face went on in a half whisper. "Just... just so I could have something. Anything. Something that could tell me I once had a real life. A family. Friends. A... home. Just... something." He looked up at Murdock then, his eyes pleading. "Is that too much to ask for?" His voice cracked. Pulling away from Murdock, he once again turned back to the window, another faint quiver running though him. The silence fell again, but only for a moment this time, before Face spoke again. "Murdock, what did you used to ask Santa Claus for?"
Murdock raised surprised eyebrows, more than a little worried by the questions, and the behavior, wondering where all this was coming from and why. He smiled with gentle tenderness at his partner's averted profile and replied, "Oh the usual stuff, y'know. Red fire engines, train sets, toy trucks and cars, model airplanes, toy airplanes and helicopters. Anything that flew, 'cause I wanted to fly so bad, and drove 'em all nuts tellin' 'em I'd fly higher than the sky someday. Y'know, the usual kids' stuff... why?"
Yeah, he had had a pretty nice childhood, up until his Mom died. Christmas had always been great. Even afterwards, with Grandma and Grandpa taking over, it had been all right. Murdock felt sad now, though. He knew Face, being an orphan, had not had it so great at Christmas, no matter how much the sisters and priests obviously loved the children and tried to spoil them as best they could.
Face still was not looking at him. Murdock suppressed a small sigh of frustration, uncertain what to do to snap his best friend and lover out of his depression.
More silence, then Face sighed, sounding weary, and began to speak again, his voice soft and sad. "I used to wish for my mother. Wish she'd come and get me, and take me home. Home to whatever home was, or had been, to whatever I couldn't remember. I used to dream of going home with her for Christmas... of trees, and snow, and presents, and mistletoe. Of warmth, and love, and just... God, just so much, which could never be."
The self-mocking half smile was back, the nervous mannerisms, the trembling hands, the hesitant, halting speaking. Murdock wanted to hug Face tight in against him and never let go, but he suspected the time was not right just yet for that. Face needed to talk first. The rest could come afterwards.
"But she never came," Face went on, sounding strained. "I waited, year after year, but she never came. After a bit, I stopped believing in make believe, and started making my own luck." His lips still quirked in their cynical twist, he shifted around from the window, hands quivering in nervous agitation around the blanket, eyes bright and shining as they met the pilot's. "Murdock, I used to wish so hard, but it was like, it was like, grasping at gossamer."
Face paused for a bit, as if searching for the right analogy to fit what he was trying to say. Then, after drawing in a quiet, sighing breath, began speaking again. "I would dream sometimes, and in my dreams I'd hear her voice, feel her touch, smell her scent. Then I'd wake up and the dream would evaporate like mist, leaving me with nothing. My memories were like... like gossamer in the sunlight, no matter how much you reach for it, it slips right through your fingers, as if it isn't there at all. You can see it, you know it's there, but you just can't grasp it, no matter what. Then, if you turn the wrong way, it seems to disappear altogether. That's what it used to feel like. That's why I stopped believing."
Tearing his eyes away from Murdock's, Face gazed down at his lap. "That's why," he whispered, "Because no matter how hard I've tried, the people I've loved the most in my life, they've all just slipped right on through my fingers, like gossamer, leaving me with next to nothing." He released a soft, sad sigh, then looked up and sought out Murdock's eyes once more. "Sometimes I... sometimes I get afraid... so afraid, that one day I'll look around for you, but you'll be gone too."
Murdock's heart ached for the pain he could see, and even feel, in Face, whose eyes reflected a dark, stormy ocean, as they swirled with all his conflicting, tumultuous emotions. Moving further forward in his chair, Murdock pulled Face in to himself, encircling his arms about him, holding him close. After a long, tense moment, Face relaxed against him, and allowed the embrace to continue, resting his head on the pilot's shoulder.
Murdock stroked his hair gently. "That's where you're wrong, muchacho," he said after a bit, with firm conviction.
Face pulled back to stare up at him, his eyebrows rising in question, wondering where Murdock was going with that statement, the pilot's smile bathing him with the strength of its warmth.
Murdock touched the upturned cheek softly, slightly breath taken, as always, at the intensity of the beautiful aquamarine eyes. "You're wrong, because you still have me, Face. You still got a holda me. I ain't goin' nowhere, muchacho. You're stuck with ol' HM Murdock, no matter what y'think of that."
Face smiled then, and Murdock was relieved to see that it was a genuine, clear, charming smile, one which reached right into his eyes, making them shine and sparkle.
Murdock found it impossible to resist the slightly open lips. Bending his neck, he captured them with his own, kissing his partner with deep, gentle passion. When they broke it off, Face laid his head on Murdock's chest, sighing in contentment.
"Do you think there really is a Santa Claus, HM?" Face broke another companionable silence to say, a slight hint of smiling amusement in his soft voice.
They stayed like that for a long time, holding each other, until the shadows lengthened outside and it became difficult to see within the room. Finally, they decided to join the others downstairs.
As he closed the door behind them, Face could swear he heard the jingling of bells and a snuffling and trampling of hooves. Shaking the image from his head, he turned and looked into Murdock's eyes, allowing himself to fall into their dark, glorious depths as always.
Maybe it was going to be a good Christmas after all, he decided.
They walked away, hand in hand, back down to the cheer of Christmas, good friends, good food, and the people Face loved, and yes, had managed to keep a hold of... and always would.
Somewhere, in another time and place, where fantasy ruled supreme, and dreams always came true, a reindeer snorted, and Santa laughed in hearty cheer.
And Face, feeling the warmth of Christmas cheer and Murdock's love filling him, looked up into his partner's eyes and... smiled.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!
"Is There A Santa Claus?"
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
"Dear Editor--I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun, it's so.'
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?"
115 West Ninety-fifth Street
your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not
believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible
by their little minds. All minds,
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which
childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
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