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"Why do you call me that?" he asked, as Murdock ordered a grape nehi.
"Cause you're my buddy, my pal, my hip-hip Daddio," Murdock said, swigging down some of his nehi and slapping a buck down on the bar. "Ever dream you're a jazz guy in the 50's? Dig that dog, he's real gone, you know what I'm saying?"
When Murdock got going, it was hard not to laugh. "How'd you get here?" Face asked after choking the laughs out.
"Shank's mare, babe, I hoofed it. Long way, too, but hell, I need the exercise."
"How'd you like a ride back home? We can stop at my place. Want to talk with you a little." ~Want to talk with you a lot~, he thought, and his mind flashed back to Viet Nam, and Murdock yelling his name, and everything that happened after.
"Cool as a cuke, buddy-boy, let me just finish my drink."
Face did, watching the ice cubes clink against Murdock's teeth, the condensation running down the glass over his fingertips. ~Those fingers touched my face once~, he thought, then shook the thought out of his head. Time and a place.
Face revved the engine and pulled out of the Bongo Bar parking lot, squealing down the street. Murdock was grinning wildly, so much like a kid in a candy store. He had removed his cap, and the fall of hair over his brow was endearing, almost beautiful in the dusky light.
"Where are Hannibal and B.A.?" Murdock asked, fiddling with the stack of cassettes on Face's dashboard.
"Canada," he said, finding it hard to think of the other two. "Standard recon mission. We're not needed."
"Cool beans, Daddio," Murdock said, plugging a Doors tape into the player and sitting back.
Face tensed, looking over at Murdock. His shirt had hiked up a bit, and Face could just see a line of bared skin just above Murdock's beltline. Jesus, this was driving him crazy.
"You think about Nam a lot, Murdock?" Face asked, feeling cold sweat prick out all over his body. This was it. No going back now.
"Never when I can help it, Dad-o," Murdock said, sounding like his normal self but looking a little stiff in his seat. The Doors played in the background.
"I don't believe that," Face said, glancing over at his friend. Murdock, who had been looking out the window, turned to look at him.
"You're serious," he said. It wasn't a question.
"Yeah, man. There's some stuff we need to talk about."
"Man, that was then. This is now. We is in A-mer-ee-ca!" Murdock let out a howl. Face said nothing. Murdock, seeming defeated, sank back down in his seat.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. Face stopped at a red light and turned to fully look at Murdock.
"Do you really not remember?" Face asked.
"I remember every night," Murdock told him, and the light turned green. "I wake up screaming sometimes. We done now?"
Face let his memory drift. Viet Nam. Choppers overhead. Running through the mud and the ferns, Charlie laying waste behind them. Two of his men already lost. And when he turned back, there was Murdock, and he wasn't moving.
"I said, we done now?" Murdock asked again, sounding angry. Murdock never sounded angry.
Face forced himself to continue. It had been five years since Viet Nam. The waiting had gone on too long. "No, Murdock. We're not. I've tried to forget about it since we came home, and it doesn't do me any good. I can't forget that day, in Ma Nong. Do you remember?" Then, gently, he placed his hand on Murdock's leg. The pilot jumped.
"That was *then* man. None of that's real to me anymore. *None*of it."
There was silence in the car. Face watched the road. Regardless of how Murdock felt, Viet Nam was still very real to him. Murdock, screaming out his name. Stuck in the mud. And the choppers overhead, raging toward them. Face remembered his decision, remembered letting the other men run ahead. Remembers going back, gunfire all around him. Remembered hoisting Murdock up from the mud, and running with him, holding him over his shoulders, until they found shelter. And that night, in the jungle . . .
"We're here," Face said, his voice trembling. Murdock looked at him.
"You coming in?" Face asked quietly.
They sat across the table from each other, each nursing a beer. Murdock opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. Face filled the silence.
"War changes people, Murdock," he said, sipping his beer. "Fundamentally. I went over there with visions of returning home and millions of girls throwing themselves at the proud vet. But when I got back, I wasn't proud, and I didn't much care that the girls I'd wanted were gone."
Murdock shifted uncomfortably. Face swigged some more beer.
"I remember holding you up, man," Face said. His voice shook. "And how light you felt, because of the adrenaline pumping through me. How strong I was, and how … how much you needed me." The tears felt like they would come now. That was all right, tears he could live with.
"I remember, too, Face," Murdock said "I remember it all."
Face looked up, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
"That's right. But since then, I've wanted to put it all behind me. Everything that reminded me of then. It hurt too much to remember."
Murdock got off his stool and touched Face's tear. "But it hurts more to try to forget," he said, and moved his mouth over Face's, sealing them in a kiss, the first kiss since the jungle, all those years ago.
"I love you, Murdock," Face said, exhaling sharply, breaking the kiss. "I've always loved you."
"I know, Daddy," Murdock said softly. "Now it's my turn to save you."
Placing his arms around Face's body, he lifted the man and held him close. Face felt his friend's body heat flowing into him and his heart skipped a beat. To feel that warmth again, after five years, was wonderful.
Murdock brought Face into the living room and laid him down on the couch. His tears were dried up now, but his stomach still felt jittery. Murdock stood over him, their positions the reverse of how they had been in the jungle. "I've wanted you for years, soldier, without letting myself do anything about it," Murdock said, smiling. "It's about time."
Murdock leaned down and unbuttoned Face's shirt, exposing his lightly tanned skin. "Beautiful," Murdock said, kneeling down and placing his mouth over Face's nipple, running his tongue over it. Face shivered with delight, his member throbbing heavily in his pants. Murdock caressed Face's stomach with one callused hand, and Face thrilled to the sensation of Murdock's rough fingers against his soft skin. Gently, Murdock moved his hand down, circling one finger around Face's navel, then tucked his hand below the waistline of Face's jeans.
Face moaned in pleasure, reaching up and unbuttoning Murdock's shirt. His trembling fingers got caught on one of the buttonholes, forcing the button in even further. Murdock took his slowly revolving tongue off of Face's nipple, grabbed the top of his own shirt, and ripped it off, letting loose a howl.
"God, you are hot," Face said, running his hand over his friend's chest, letting his fingers play in the whorls and waves of chest hair. Murdock thrust his hand down Face's pants more, and Face felt Murdock's fingertips come in contact with the head of his penis. Hot shivers shot up his spine and he tensed.
"Don't go on me now, Daddy," Murdock said mockingly, then used his other hand to start unbuttoning Face's pants. When they lay in a puddle on the floor of the living room, Murdock placed one light hand on the shaft of Face's penis.
"I remember you doing this," Murdock said, tracing his finger down the length of Face's shaft. "And this," he continued, cupping Face's balls in his hand and squeezing them gently. Face groaned, writhing on the couch. His eyes were closed but he could still see Murdock, his friend, his lover, his compatriot. "But I especially remember this," Murdock said, and Face felt the other man lower his mouth on his dick, feeling Murdock's lips close around it, and Murdock's tongue moving around his shaft as it had moved around his nipple.
~This is heaven~, Face thought, as Murdock's head began to move rhythmically up and down. Face felt other movement and he opened his eyes in time to see Murdock hurriedly removing his own jeans. His dick stuck out like a missile, eight inches long and hard as steel. A glistening drop of pre-ejaculation hung from the tip of it, then slowly dropped to Face's leg. Murdock, still moving his head up and down on Face's cock, grabbed his own and started pumping.
Face closed his eyes and let the experience take him. Murdock's tongue lashed skillfully at his dick head every time the man arched upward, sending electric jolts through Face's body. When he thrust down, Face felt his dick hitting the back of his friend's throat, the resistance driving him crazy with lust. Once or twice, he opened his eyes to see Murdock's hand pump his own large projectile, moving so fast that it blurred.
"I," Face began, out of breath. "Oh, man, I'm gonna come!" he moaned. Murdock didn't let up at all, even intensifying his mouth, moving his tongue even faster, grinding down on Face's dick even harder. "Oh, Murdock!" he screamed, and felt come shoot out of his dick, gushing wildly at the back of his friend's throat. Straining, he opened his eyes, and a moment later, a white fountain of ejaculate shot from his friend's enormous cock, shooting all the way up to Face's chest, covering it with his juice.
Murdock moved his mouth off of Face's penis gently, then lowered himself onto his friend, embracing him. He whispered in Face's ear:
"I call you Daddy because you're the only family I've got. My Daddy left me behind. You came back for me. For that, above all else, I love you."
They kissed again, holding each other, and this time, Face knew, it would be for keeps.
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