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This page last viewed: 2017-12-11 and has been viewed 1926 times
Rated: R - War situations, references to torture, oblique references to a slash relationship.
Warning: War situations, references to torture, oblique references to a slash relationship.
Summary: Some dogs come when you call them. Some dogs come when you need them. Maybe angels are the
Murdock opened his eyes, then blinked against the bright white glare of the midday sun.
Must have fallen asleep, he thought.
He felt awful. Achy all over, with a piercing headache. Dry mouth.
He reached out a hand, buried his fingers in Billy’s straggle of soft fur.
The dog lifted his head and gave Murdock a supportive, panting smile. Lifted one of his front paws hopefully until Murdock sat up, easing himself against the trunk of the old oak, and pulled the big mutt into his lap. He could hear the wind, like voices, whistling through the leaves above him.
Billy licked Murdock’s cheek.
(He could feel a moistness there, his cheek was wet.)
Dogs always know.
(When you can’t take anymore.)
When you’re tired. Billy turned a few awkward circles in Murdock’s lap, then settled, his chin on Murdock’s knee.
The sun was very bright. Everything was bright. Vivid. Open. It didn’t look anything like Texas. Not really.
Sure as hell didn’t look like...
White lightening seared through Murdock’s head. He moaned, pressing his lips together, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes.
Billy whimpered and Murdock brought one shaking hand down, ran his fingers over the silky fur on the dog’s head, behind his ears.
“Shh...” he said softly. “Shh... don’t say nothin’, Billy. Be a good dog. Shh...”
The piercing pain abated, as suddenly as it had begun, leaving the aching behind it. Murdock spat into the (bright) brown dust. How could your mouth be dry and full of spit at the same time? But his was. He spat again.
“Hey! Watch it, buddy!”
A guy in a white dress thing pulled his sandaled feet away from Murdock, up under his skirt.
Murdock blinked at him a moment. “Sorry, muchacho. Didn’t see you there.”
The guy gave an offended sniff.
Murdock reached a hand out, offer it to the guy, to shake, then pulled it back as another piercing pain shot through him, eyes, head, chest, groin. Wrists. He could hear himself gasping, gulping for air. Hear Billy’s anxious moan.
“Shh...” Murdock whispered.
“Shh...” the guy said. Then he was pulling Murdock into his lap, locking his arms around Murdock’s chest, holding him against the pain.
It helped a little. Just like when Hannibal held him. BA held him. Face...
But this wasn’t them. Murdock turned his head away and spat into the dirt again. Tried to pull away. This wasn’t... But the guy smoothed a hand across his forehead, cool hand, and eased Murdock’s head into the crook of his arm.
He felt so heavy. “Why...” he started. But his throat felt so dry. Hurt. Everything hurt. “Why are you here?”
“He sent me. You know that.”
Murdock coughed a little, then looked around for Billy. He was right there, shoving his nose into Murdock’s side insistently. “Shh...” he told Billy. “Be a good dog. Don’t say... nuthin’. Don’t say nuthin’.” He rested back into the man’s arms. Looked at him.
The man had pale gold hair. Kind of long. Pale skin. Wings that flickered behind him a little, like he was nervous. But his face didn’t give anything away.
Murdock licked his lips. Tried to. Ended up rasping dry tongue against cracked flesh. Moving a little blood around. Salty blood.
He’d been bleeding before. Different, that time, but the blood was the same. Tasted the same.
“The last time I saw angels,” he said, “was a... a real bad time.”
The guy grimaced. “Don’t I know it. Nobody ever calls me down for a friendly chat. Invites me to dinner, wants to hang out for a quiet evening watching Bonanza. But when the shit hits the fan... instant service.” He snapped his fingers. The sound was sharp and clear. “They want instant service.”
“You like Bonanza?”
“Oh, man, yeah...” the guy said. “I love that show. Pa, Adam, Hoss. Little Joe. Riding horses all day. And everything’s all right with the world at the end of every episode, them sitting together in the front room in front of the fire. I love that room.”
They were quiet for a moment. Resting. The guy had knobby knees and they dug into Murdock’s back a little. But he didn’t want to move. Didn’t want to be alone.
It was real hard to be alone.
Billy licked Murdock’s fingers and Murdock smiled down at him.
Billy wagged his tail.
Murdock dragged his attention back to the man above him. There was something about him, something about when he’d come before... “Face okay?”
The guy smoothed Murdock’s hair back from his face gently, absently. “He’s worried. You know. You’ve been gone a long time.”
“I didn’t say nuthin’, I swear...” Murdock said.
“That’s not what he’s worried about, dummy.”
Pain seared through Murdock. Again. Like fire inside, fire for blood. His teeth clenched against it.
Billy was making a terrible sound, now.
(Growling at them.)
Making a terrible sound in the back of his throat.
“No, Billy!” Murdock shouted. “No!”
Then he couldn’t shout because he couldn’t breathe. Fire in his lungs.
He sobbed in the man’s arms a little. Without tears. Is it really crying if there are no tears? Maybe there was a loophole there. Face would know. Face knew all about loopholes.
“Do you really watch Bonanza?” Murdock’s voice was wavery. Thick.
“For somebody who flies all the time, you don’t know much about angels.”
Murdock grinned a little. “Facey said that same thing to me one time...”
He tried to turn his head, to spit, but his head was real heavy. He hurt so bad.
Don’t think about that.
A small bead of spittle dripped from the corner of his mouth, down his cheek. He closed his eyes, but opened them again when the man wiped his face with his white sleeve.
The tree was gone, now. From above them. And bright Texas that wasn’t Texas.
There was just the three of them. Man. Dog. Angel.
“Bird’s-eye view, my friend. Angels see everything.”
“See everything. Yeah, I just... “ Murdock was having trouble making his mouth curve around the words. “I just never thought about it being TV too, ya know?”
Murdock looked up into the guy’s eyes. See everything. The guy’s eyes were a soft, hazy sort of blue. They flickered away from Murdock’s gaze, then back, away, then back again.
“He isn’t... isn’t doing too good,” the guy said. “I’m not supposed to tell you that.”
The guy pulled at his collar. Sighed.
Murdock wondered, suddenly, if a person’s angel looked like them. He didn’t really know anything about angels. Face was right about that. He always figured it was more of a Catholic thing. They had all sorts of weird stuff like that.
He caught the guy’s gaze again. “Do black people have black angels?” He almost laughed, then, thinking about what kind of angel BA would have, if BA had an angel. A big, black, grumpy, muscle-bound angel who refused to fly.
“You asked me that last time, don’t you remember?”
“I ain’t rememberin’ so good lately,” Murdock said softly. His body felt so heavy. But his heart lurched a little. Remember. Face.
“What’s wrong with ‘im?”
The guy sighed. Looked out into bright nowhere, then back at Murdock. “He’s going away again.”
Awake, but not awake. There, but not there.
BA shaking Face a little, when they brought him back, ‘til Hannibal said he shouldn’t shake him. Murdock and BA looking at each other. Too much in that look.
BA angry. Scared too, but mostly angry. At him and Face.)
“BA doesn’t want us to go away.” Murdock closed his eyes. He couldn’t feel the arms around him so well anymore. Just heaviness. Aching. “An’ Hannibal’s gonna be pissed. But... I don’t know how much longer... I don’t know...”
The cool brush of fingers on his face. Wings?
“If we stay... much longer... ain’t gonna be nuthin’ left, muchacho.”
Billy licked Murdock’s fingers. He could feel the wetness tickling
down his wrists.
“He doesn’t mean to leave you.” The guy’s voice was very quiet, now. Very close. “He doesn’t want to leave you.”
Murdock felt a lump rising in his throat. He tried to spit, but there was nothing. His eyes felt hot, but they were dry. There were no tears.
“Could you tell him,” he whispered. “Tell him I don’t want to leave him, neither. I don’t mean to leave him.”
“It would mean a lot more, coming from you.”
“I know, but...”
Billy was making that noise again.
(Were they hurting Billy?)
“Shh...” Murdock murmured. “Shh...”
He reached out his fingers, but he couldn’t feel Billy there. Did they take him too? Anger flashed through him, anger, but then...
Remember, Murdock thought.
“There’s a... lot of stuff we ain’t supposed to say...” Murdock said softly. His lips were dry. His mouth felt like it was full of sand. Dry, gritty sand. “We ain’t supposed to say...” he said. “There’s... I mean... I know stuff. An’ I’m not supposed to... but it gets all messed up. BA’s talkin’ to me, we’re talkin’, but then it’s them and there’s no space in between, you know? And Billy and sometimes... I’m not supposed to... but I can’t tell who I’m talkin’ to no more. My head, they’re... I mean, I want to tell Face, he looks at me and I want to tell him I’m here, I’m still here, but me an’ Billy, we gotta be real quiet. Shh... Don’t say nuthin’. No. Shh... ‘Cause the wrong things and the right things are gettin’ all messed up, you know?”
Murdock opened his eyes and he was in Face’s arms. It was dark and he was in the cage again and the angel was gone and he was in Face’s arms. Face was looking all worried. He was so thin, and he looked all worried.
Murdock coughed, and Face held him tight around his chest while he coughed. His mouth was so dry. He hurt...
Face eased him down and Murdock rested his head in the crook of Face’s arm. He tried to smile at Face, but he couldn’t move real well. Everything was so heavy.
Face looked scared.
BA was doing something to his wrists. Murdock could see that, now. Binding them. They were bloody and he was binding them with a piece of his shirt. Maybe they tied him with wire this time. The big guy was real gentle, but he couldn’t really feel it anyway. He hurt, but he felt far away.
He had the odd, lurching tremors that always happened when they used the box.
He looked up into Face’s eyes.
Face was dirty. His hair, gold hair, was limp with sweat, tangled against his skull. There were streaks of red and brown on his cheeks, smeared, like he’d been crying earth and blood. Face hated to be dirty.
Murdock wanted to reach up and wipe the dirt off Face’s cheeks with his fingers, but he couldn’t make his fingers move.
He wanted to spit, but his mouth was so dry.
He wanted to tell Face that he was there, that he didn’t leave, not really. But he couldn’t speak. His mouth was so dry.
He looked into Face’s eyes.
They’d always been able to read each other’s eyes.
He tried to focus. “I’m here,” he said with his eyes. Were they talking? Was Face listening? “I was just talking to your angel. Billy was there. They wanted to know the new radio codes for I Corps. No, don’t tell them that, Billy! Shh... Remember the Ponderosa. Hop Sing puts the wires together. No, that was a different episode. All the episodes of Bonanza have happy endings. We were in Texas and there was something I had to tell you. Shh... don’t say nuthin’, Billy. Shh, Billy, shh...”
Murdock never noticed when the tears cleaned the blood and earth from Face’s hollow cheeks. He never felt the tears (bloody, dirty tears) that fell on his own cheeks (borrowed tears) and moistened his lips.
Murdock had gone away.
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