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Shadows of Old Scars

Shadows of Old Scars
by emmastark

Rated: R        Light m/m slash (Face/Murdock), angst.

Warning:        M/M slash

Summary:        Nightmares and seascapes bring old fears
close to the surface for Face and Murdock.

Copyright       2000  

Shadows of Old Scars

        The eddies and currents of the dream world pushed
Murdock gently up into the light until he woke,
blinking, focusing, taking a deep breath.
        The bed was empty.
        Murdock could remember, in that almost remembering
kind of way a person has when theyíve slept with some
one for awhile, that Face had had a restless night.
Tossing and turning.  Muttering to himself.  He
recalled reaching over, at one point, and draping an
arm over Faceís shoulder.  But it must not have
worked.  Must not have kept, well, whatever it was
        Faceís running shoes were still in the corner (or
back).  Murdock looked out the window.
        The house sat perched above the Pacific Ocean on a
cliff.  A narrow pathway, mostly stairs, had been cut
into the cliff face many years before.  It led down to
a small, private cove.
        The sand was empty, but Murdock could see someone in
the water.  Face.  The morning sun brought out the
gold in his honey-colored hair.
        He was swimming against the waves like he was
wrestling someone down, pushing against them.  But you
donít win against the ocean.
        Murdock pulled on a pair of old cutoffs and a green
t-shirt that said ìKiss Me ­ Iím Lithuanian.î  He
walked out into morning.

        It wasnít warm, precisely.  A steady breeze came in
off the water, salty and wet.  But the pale morning
sun was trying its best.  You could feel it on your
        Murdock climbed down the stairs.
        They were worn in some places, and had broken away in
others.  You had to be careful.  There was no railing,
but Murdock put his hand out and let it trail along
the cliff wall.  Sand shouldnít have been able to make
its way clear up the stairs, but sand has a way of
getting everywhere.  It gave the damp steps a slippery
feel, and Murdock was glad he was barefoot.
        He paused halfway down and looked out.  If heights
had bothered him he wouldnít be a happy camper, but he
was a pilot.  He liked being up in the air.  There was
a part of him that still considered leaping off
cliffs.  That thought seriously of flying,
Icarus-wise, up toward the sun just to see if it would
melt his feathers.  (And was that the pilot or the
crazyman?  Did that come from the dark place or the
light?)  But he was intent on rescuing Face at the
moment.  He picked out the firm, tanned body of his
friend and lover, still battling the waves below, then
continued down the stairs.

        Murdock made his way across the sand until he stood
on the edge of the world.  Well, North America,
anyway.  You could look out and see nothing but blue.
The cliff surrounded the little cove, protecting it
from civilization.  A plane banked high overhead, but
then even it was gone.  There were only the two of
        Face noticed him after awhile.  He let the tide carry
him in, tumbling him once before it dropped him on the
sand.  He smoothed the water out of his hair, off his
        Almost anyone would have said he looked wonderful.
He wore only tight-fitting bikini swim trunks.  Their
color matched his eyes.  His skin was tanned and
        Murdock noticed that his eyes were shadowed.  The
dark patches beneath them looked almost like bruises.
Face moved gracefully always, but now he was picking
his feet up carefully, like his legs were terribly
        As Face approached, Murdock held out his hand.  He
felt bolder when they were alone, and trusted more
easily in the things he couldnít see.
        Face took his hand and they walked silently along the
beach for a few minutes.
        A hill of sand pressed against the south end of the
cove and the two men paused when they came to it.
Sunlight was just beginning to climb over the cliff
and up the side of the dune.
        Face stared out over the ocean and Murdock, still
grasping his hand, watched him from a half-step back.
He wanted to memorize him, like a map, so heíd always
know where to find him.  Heíd never met anybody who
could make himself disappear so fast.  Even Billy was
more predictable.
        It was hard to keep his eyes away when they
were together.  It wasnít lust.  Okay, it was 99.5%
lust, but the really big other part of looking at him
was a fear, deep in his heart, that all the time in
the world would never be enough.  He would miss
something important, and then Face would be gone.
        But if he just looked deeper.  If he could
remember how Faceís shoulder curved up into the back
of his neck.  If he could figure out the pattern in
the shadows of scars across the smooth, tanned back.
If he could penetrate those blue eyes, changeable as
weather, now hidden, now vulnerable, now playing you
some song in a key you like to hearÖ
        ìDid you ever dream, and not remember what you dream,
but feel ­ I donít know ­ kind ofÖ haunted by it
anyway?  Not know what it was, but still feel it?î
Face asked softly.
        Murdock traced one hand down the back of Faceís neck,
across his shoulder, down his arm.  He could feel
goose bumps on the bare skin.  He could feel Face
tremble beneath his touch.
        Murdock draped his arm around Face, pulled him close
for a moment, then led him over to the dune.  He sat
down in the sand.
        ìDream-shadows, Facey.  Everything real has a
        Face looked down at the sand beneath him.  He traced
his own shadow with his toe.  ìI donít want it to be
        Murdock closed his eyes.  He knew way too much about
what was real and what wasnít.  Most people would tell
you that sane people are the people to ask about that
trip.  But crazy people have actually taken the
$249.99, lunch-included sightseeing tour.  Theyíve
been there.  Theyíve visited that border and brought
back the snow globes to prove it.
        ìCímere.î  Murdock patted the sand between his
sprawled legs.
        Face blinked at him, then smiled wryly.  ìIím wet.î
        ìIím a drip-dry kind of guy, Faceyman.î
        Face dropped heavily to the sand.
        Murdock leaned back onto the dune and pulled Face up
until his back rested against Murdockís chest.  His
head rested on Murdockís shoulder.
        Murdock could feel sea water seeping slowly into his
thin t-shirt, but he could also feel Faceís trembling
and that ocean-cold diminish as he held him close.
        After awhile, Faceís breathing became even and slow.
His body relaxed against Murdockís.
        Murdock concentrated on the feel of the sun on his
skin.  The feel of that familiar body resting heavily
against him.  The smell of morning.  The sound of the
ocean, that drowned everything else out.  Maybe even
dreams.  Maybe even the shadows of dreams.
        He was half-way through memorizing the way Faceís
hair curled, just a little bit at the ends, as it
dried, when he fell asleep.

        ìMurdock!  Murdock, wake up!î
        Murdock couldnít figure out where he was for a
moment.  The sun was in his eyes, he was covered in
gritty sand, he had a sneaking suspicion that the
reason his skin felt so tight and hot was because he
was sun-burned, and Face was sitting in his lap.
Practically in his lap, anyway.
        Then he remembered falling asleep by the water.  As
his eyes blinked into focus, he could see what Face
was pointing at.
        A pod of them leapt and dove in the waves just
off-shore.  Their fins looked black against the blue
        Face was smiling at him.  ìRace you.î
        Murdock scrambled up, but Face was already at the
water line.  Then they were both splashing through the
surf and diving under the crashing waves.

        Face watched, treading water, as Murdock dove head
first under the surface, kicking his feet in the air
behind him.
        A sleek, grey dolphin mimicked him, diving and waving
its tail before slipping down under.
        They were surrounded by dolphins ­ maybe twenty of
them.  They leapt out of the water in graceful arcs,
then again in twos and threes.
        Murdock swam with them.  Face felt the knot in his
chest, left over from (dream shadows) the night
before, ease a bit as he watched his lover play.
        Heíd never met anyone who could play like Murdock.
He could lose himself in the game completely, with the
single-minded intensity and joy of a child.  Finding
himself again was sometimes a challenge, but losing
himself ­ he could do it in an instant.  Face always
had to be careful when he used him in cons.  Face
shrugged on characters like coats, but Murdock became.
        Murdock lay on his back for a moment, spouting water
from his lips like a fountain.  Then he rolled over
and over and over.  Two of the younger dolphins
(teenagers?) showed their bellies, then their backs,
then their bellies again.  When Murdock clapped for
them, laughing, one of them dove under him, then leapt
over his head, showering him with water that sparkled
in the bright sunlight.
        It was beautiful.  Face wished for a momentÖ but he
was who he was.  Somebody had to stay anchored, right?
 Somebody had to remember the way back.  Somebody had
to hold onto the details, carry the memories, stay in
control.  At least Murdock was letting him be close.
From close by, he could watch.
        Face gasped when something brushed against his thigh.
 He looked down.
        An old grandfather, his pale grey coat riddled with
the ghosts of old scars, lay quietly in the water
beside Face.
        Face reached out a tentative hand, then stroked it
along the smooth, moist skin.  It feltÖ soft somehow.
Different than he would have imagined.
        One large dark eye stared up at Face.  And suddenly,
the old dolphinís back fin was in his hand.  He
grasped tight, using his other hand to steady himself
against the dolphinís side.  The huge mammal took Face
with him when he dove.
        The world felt blue.  Everything was water ­ soft,
wavering, smooth.  They passed deeper into the
darkness.  The water pressed against Faceís ears, then
against his chest.  Small bubbles escaped his lips and
rose toward the light, but the light was very far
        The silence was complete.  No sound.  No movement.
Just the beating of his own heart and the feel of
smooth flesh beneath his hands.
        Alone.  So desperately alone.  Had he wept this ocean
that pressed against him?  Did he breathe in wet
sorrow?  The things he carried held him down.  Need
overwhelmed him, but there was nowhere to run.
        Nowhere to run.
        And they were moving.
        Darkness became light.  Heaviness buoyancy.  Water
        He couldnít remember how to breathe.

        Strong hands lifted his face up out of the water and
deep brown eyes stared into him.  Murdockís mouth was
moving but he couldnít hearÖ
        Face shook his head, and water fell out of his ears.
        ìÖokay?  Face, talk to me!  Hello in there!î
        Face reached out his hand and stroked Murdockís
        Murdock gave him a little shake.  ìAre you okay?î
        Face nodded.  He drew air into his lungs tentatively,
then desperately.  He let his eyes close, and felt
Murdockís body beneath him, supporting him.  His head
rested on Murdockís shoulder, and Murdock stroked his
arms gently.
        ìScared me, Facey.  I turned around and couldnít find
        Breathing took more concentration than Face
remembered.  He clutched at Murdockís hands, pulled
Murdockís arms around him and held them there,
imprisoning himself.  He breathed.
        ìAre you okay really?î
        Face could feel the gentle movement of Murdockís legs
in the water, kicking softly, keeping them both
afloat.  Murdockís arms felt so strong.
        ìIs it all right to need you so much?î he whispered
hoarsely.  ìI need you so much.î  He closed his eyes.
(Would he pull away?  Would he pull away?  Would he go
away forever?  Will he leave me alone forever?)
        Murdock pressed his lips against Faceís temple.  More
a promise than a kiss.
        ìI know Iím not so good at the world stuff, Facey.
Gets all messy and complicated out there in real life.
 Makes me want to run away.  But I swear, Iíll never
run away from you.  You need me all you want.î
        Face buried his eyes in Murdockís neck.
        ìYou take care of the world and Iíll take care of
you, okay?  That was our deal, right?  Spit and
shake.î  Murdock kept hold of Faceís limp form tightly
with one arm, but lifted his other hand to Faceís
cheek.  He rested it there.
        Face nodded.  (Önever run away.  Take care of you.
Never run away.  Never run away.)
        ìIf I memorize your fear, could I make it disappear?î
Murdockís thoughts slipped lightly across the surface
of his mind as he concentrated on holding Face firmly
in his arms.  ìYouíre a slippery little sucker, ainít
you, Facey?  Fast as fast.  Whereíd you go, just now?
Whereíd you go?î
        (Memorize him.  Like a map.  And the dream-shadows
wonít be able to take him anywhere you canít follow.)

(Scared to follow.)
(Love you, Facey.)
(Scared to followÖ)
(Love you so muchÖ)
(Memorize him.  Like a map.)
        (Like a map.)

Shadows of Old Scars by emmastark



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