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SUMMARY: Takes place just after family reunion episode; Face and Murdock have a deep conversation. Angst stuff.


The clearing was just the place Face had been looking for, a wide expanse of water sprawled in front of him. He sat on the old tree trunk and started skimming stones across the surface of lake; he'd done a lot of that at the orphanage, on the small pond behind the church. He'd spend hours by himself playing alone. Alone, mmm, things were never gonna be quite the same again, not after all the recent revelations. He could sense someone was behind him; he didn't need to turn.

"Murdock, you following me?" He asked his gaze never leaving the calm waters in front of him. Murdock shrugged. He felt incredibly uncomfortable, and he needed to talk to Face. Clear the air a little. He'd been lying when he said he'd liked the fact that when they argued they didn't fall over there lips apologizing. In truth, he hated fighting with Face and he hated the fact he'd caused Face so much pain. He sat down next to Face on the tree trunk.

"You're gonna give them fish a headache bouncing them stones on their heads." He said forcing an uneasy smile. Face sighed and looked at Murdock, he could see the pain in those beautiful hazelnut eyes. The smile was as much of fraud as one of Face's scams.

"Murdock it's ok, I don't blame you. I'm not angry with you." Face said softly. "I just feel emotionally raw at the moment. I'm grasping at straws to keep my self steady. Ellen was right, fate is fleeting. A father is a blessing I never knew till now. We have finite time to try and understand them. I never knew him, and that hurts Murdock. I stood talking to him, telling him to grab the moment he had. I..." Face broke off tears streaming down his flushed cheeks.

"How ironic is that? I was telling my own father to seize the last moments he had with his daughter. And he knew, he knew he was talking to his son." Face snorted. "Like father like son huh? He was on the run for years, and look at me. Guess it is true what they say the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree. Jeeze!"

"Face, I wish I could have told you. Maybe I should have." Murdock replied quietly. Face shook his head turning to face his best friend.

"Murdock, you are a man of your word. I know that. My dad.÷jeeze it feels weird saying that. He was sick, trying to do too much in too little time. I just feel like a box has been opened deep inside me, with all these emotions I don't know quite how to deal with. I've got sooooo many questions that'll never get answered now. I've been searching so long for my father HM. You know that? It's all happened too quickly. I found my father and lost him at the same time. I have no idea whether to tell Ellen, I mean what good would it do? I can't exactly spend Thanksgiving with her if you know what I mean." Face said a little sarcastically.

"Don't get me wrong, I know who are my family, it's you guys. But I came so close to losing my label, "orphan", "the child nobody wanted". So close I could taste the different air you guys breathe. Air of the blessed families who know where they belong, who know their identity, know who they are. Haven't you ever wondered why I'm so good at scamming? I'm the bastard nobody wanted. Without identity, I can change the way I look to suit my needs; I can do the same with my name. Why should I care I never knew who I really was anyhow. I AM the master of disguise because I HAVE no real name. I'm like a blank disc which you can forever change the contents of. I can create a new me without turning a hair. Guess it's like security blanket, H.M. It's like I have no hard drive. This chameleon is forever changing, a soulless creature taking advantage of others, to get what it needs. A.J Bancroft could have changed all that, H.M." Face said, his head in his hands, as he sobbed. Harder than he'd ever done before. The little child everyone overlooked at adoption days was exposed for all the world to see.

Murdock leant forward and put his arms round Face. 'This was going to be a long few days .....' he thought to himself.



A few moments later Face pulled away from Murdock and walked to the waters edge. He knelt down and splashed his flushed cheeks with the cool clean mountain water. He felt as though he was washing away the old Faceman and allowing a new one to surface, one that had been buried deep down inside of him for a very long time. As he stood up he ran his wet fingers through his tussled locks. "I just can't stop the tears. How can I weep over a man I never knew? Who never knew or wanted me?" He said quietly.

He smirked as he remembered an old Shakespeare quote. "Is it better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all?"

"Man, I don't know!" Face said throwing his hands up in dismay. "Just tell me how to stop feeling all this pain, H.M. It's making me feel real tired."

Murdock walked forward and stood beside Face. "It's the pain inside that reminds us we are human Face, it reminds us how fragile we are and how tenuous life is. I don't know why A.J. did what he did, but what I do know is he was hurting too. I wasn't going to show you this, but I think it may help." Murdock said as he handed Face the pictures of him and Ellen A.J had carried with him. Face opened the slim package and swallowed hard. He recognized the photo from his days at the orphanage. A glint of anger appeared in his eyes he was unable to contain his rage, bottled up for so long. He flung the photos into the lake.

"Bastard! Fucking bastard!" He yelled. "All this time you were watching, and you never once came near." Face stormed over to the nearest tree, and without a second thought, began punching it. Rage, pain and a violent temper Murdock had never seen took him over. A cloud of pure unadulterated frustration and anger overwhelmed Face. He was oblivious to the blood trickling down the bark of the tree. "Fucking Stockwell knew before me!" He yelled banging his forehead against the tree. "I had a right to know A.J! I had a right to know!!"

He staggered back dizzy, his forehead pouring blood from the jagged cuts. Murdock caught him as his legs gave way. They both slumped to the ground Face lying in Murdock's arms. Murdock looked down at the man who, it seemed, had yet to realize that his heart beat in time with his, it always had. The rage had disappeared from his eyes, only tears of grief remained in the shallow blue tinged eddys. Face closed his eyes and slipped into the arms of self-induced sleep.

Murdock sighed. Blood was still streaming down the side of Peck's head, and his hands well. If he hadn't added broken bones to a broken heart, Murdock would have been surprised.

"Hannibal is gonna love this Faceyman!" He muttered as gently lifted the limp body of his best friend and walked slowly back to where he'd left the vette.



Face woke up with Maggie hovering over him. He sighed. "Hello, Maggie. Um, do I take a wild guess that Murdock told you I found my dad?" He asked as he sat up.

Maggie frowned. "I have no idea what you're talking about Templeton. Murdock brought you here because he wasn't sure you wanted to go back to where Hannibal and BA are, right now."

Face rolled his eyes. "I shoulda known Murdock wouldn't have said anything. Where is he by the way?"

"He asked me not to say." She replied curtly as she washed her bloodied hands in the sink.

This time it was Face's turn to frown; he was now confused. Why would Murdock take him here and then leave? Unless÷ "He's gone back to the lake, hasn't he!" Face exclaimed, jumping off the bed. Wincing at the pain in his hands as he put his jacket on. His head was throbbing. Maggie nodded, but before she could say anything he was out the door and in his vette.

She sighed. "Great now I'm completely carless. Wonderful, and by the way Templeton, you're welcome."

Face skidded to halt by the lake. His hands were burning, and he felt a flash of anger when he saw Murdock clambering out of a boat, in scuba gear, carrying the holder containing the photos. His head was throbbing, his vision blurring. He got out the vette and stormed over to Murdock, who looked up as Face approached and saw the rage growing.

"Here we go again ...." He muttered. Face grabbed Murdock and swung him against the nearest tree.

"What the fuck is it with you H.M.? Just can't stop interfering can you? I don't fucking want those photos, can you not understand that? Or, mister bloody perfect with a perfect fucking family, do you expect me to treasure that thing because it was my dad's?"

That was it, Murdock had had enough. Face knew about his background, and yes, he had a mom and dad, but there the cliché ended. And Face knew that. Murdock pushed Face away with such force he was sent flying backwards into the nearby boat and into the water. Face scrambled to his feet, he was in so much pain and so damn angry, all he could see was red. He charged at Murdock, bringing them both tumbling to the ground exchanging punches. Murdock's mostly in his defense.

Face was like a wild animal; unhinged, unbalanced and very very strong. He punched and kicked at Murdock, who picked up a piece of drift wood and swung it at him, hitting him squarely in the forehead. His head cracked like an egg. Face fell limply to the ground, his blood flowing freely into the clear water of the lake, as it lapped gently against the shore.

"Shit, Shit, Shit. Face." Murdock stammered his eyes wide in shock and fear. He dropped the piece of wood and knelt down next to Face. "Oh my God what have I done?" He stuttered as he noticed Face wasn't breathing.



It took what seemed a lifetime for Murdock to get Face breathing. Well in a manner of speaking, one life was ending, another beginning. Murdock sank back on his haunches as he watched the colour return to Peck's face. Thoughts buzzed round his head as he gingerly moved stray blonde hairs away from the gashes on Face's forehead.

"Face, it doesn't matter what road you travel in life, it's what you do with it that counts man. We need to work through this together, not tear each other to pieces, literally." Murdock said softly. He gingerly felt his ribs and winced. "Oh great, busted a couple Faceman!"

Face groaned as he opened his eyes. His anger had gone. All he could feel was pain and remorse as he remembered pounding on Murdock. He sat up very slowly. His head was throbbing, and his hands were burning. "Murdock I'm so sorry ÷." He started.

Murdock put his finger to Face's lips. "You don't have to do that, not with me. I know how much you're hurting. If ya want a punching bag, fair enough. Just give me a lil warning and I'll do my Michelin man impression, ok?" Murdock replied.

"You ok? Did I hurt you?" Face asked.

Murdock shrugged. "What's a split lip and a couple of broken ribs between friends huh?" He replied. "If I help you over to that tree will you stay there while I see to your head? I seem to have made a bit of a mess of Maggie's artwork." Face nodded.

They sat side-by-side staring out across the lake. The big oak tree above them providing a protective canopy from the elements. Murdock sighed, "How you feeling now, Faceman?" He asked.

"Numb, to be honest. I mean, how am I s'posed to feel? I don't know, I've done the anger thing." Face replied looking at his hands. "I never knew what it was like to have a father, how am I supposed to know how to mourn one? What I do know is the anger thing is real easy. It's the living with the pain that is hard. I was part of him and he a part of me. I don't even know if I'm like him? Does he live on in me? Do I want him to?"

"A.J. would have been proud of you. He asked about you, described you as a con man with integrity. A compliment. He was a frightened old sick man, everyone makes errors of judgement in there lives. The real strength lies in the ability to live with and learn from them." Murdock replied.

"I don't know how to deal with this. That's the point H.M. A father? What do I do now? I can't carry on as if nothing has happened. I feel different, I am different. I feel like I've just discovered my identity. At the same time, I'm so torn between rages and grief; it's tearing me apart inside."

"It's gonna take time. You are going to have to tell Hannibal and BA, and deal with Stockwell."

"I know. I really couldn't give a fuck about Stockwell, but I do need to talk to Hannibal. Man, he practically raised me." Face replied.

Face rested his head on Murdock's shoulder, still a little dazed. He closed his eyes and moved to accommodate Murdock's arm as it moved to round his shoulder.

"However long it takes, I'll always be here Face." Murdock said softly.


Emotions in Motion by Magikspides