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Blue Moon of Kentucky
Disclaimer: They are not mine, never were, never will be. Sigh.
Warnings: M/M consensual and nonconsensual sex, violence
Summary: Response to January Missing Scene Challenge from the A-Slash list. The scene is from the episode Cowboy George. In this episode, Face is being roughed up by the guys in the bar when he fails to produce Cowboy George but instead produces Boy George. Behind the men, Murdock pulls a gun and makes them let Face go. Murdock is deadly serious in this scene, not his usual playful, wacky self. The challenge was to write a scene that explains why he is so serious and what happens after he pulls Face out of the bar.
Thanks to Elizabeth for initial input and a special thanks to Emma for kind words, advice, and gentle nudging.
Dust. Dust everywhere. In his eyes and down his shirt. Everywhere. He picked himself up slowly, spat. More dust.
He looked back at the building, muted light showing through the grime on the windows. Loud music, louder voices. Worse when he had been inside. The sounds broke into the night where he now stood. Some would say they were the sounds of people enjoying themselves. Ugly. That's all he could think.
It was dark, but even in the blackness you could feel the heat radiating from the ground. August in Texas. Even the nights were hot. Hot and sticky, making the dirt cling to him even more.
His gait was halting and unsteady. The sounds from the building behind him faded, replaced with the crunching of the dirt underneath his boots. It was loud in his clogged ears. Clogged with dust. Two miles of walking, crunching, until he reached home.
Whack. Still needed to fix the spring on the screen door.
Standing in the living, dark at that time of night, he waited. Listened. No yell. He had gotten lucky; the noise had not woken them up. Only bit of luck he'd had all night.
More careful with the bathroom door, he closed it quietly, not turning on the light until it was shut. A glow bled from the top and bottom of the door, but not enough to truly disturb the darkness that it kept at bay.
Peeling off his clothes, he reached for the faucets. The pipes groaned in protest as water reluctantly began to flow from the showerhead. The water stung, but it didn't matter. He had to get the dust off. It was even in his hair.
Had to scrub the dust off.
When the water turned cold and his skin was raw from rubbing, he could still feel the dust.
Why couldn't he get clean?
He stayed underneath the cold water until he shivered, until he could no longer stand it.
The old towel was scratchy against his already tender skin, but he dried himself until there was no water left on him. He kept rubbing long past that point.
He still felt dirty.
Keeping his head down, avoiding the mirror, he pulled the medicine cabinet open. Needed to brush the dirt out of his mouth.
When he finally spit into the sink, the toothpaste was tinged red. Rinsing the brush, he returned it to its holder.
Light off now, he opened the door and peeked out. Nothing. He padded carefully to his room, sidestepping the board two-thirds of the way down the hall that creaked loudly it you tread on it.
Pulling on a clean pair of boxer shorts, he crawled into bed. Comforter, blanket, sheet. It didn't matter if it was hot. Comforter, blanket, sheet. He curled up underneath them.
He'd have to change the sheets in the morning. Probably be covered in dust by then.
In the hot cocoon, he curled up tighter. The little voice in his head, the one that would never let him lie to himself, laughed harshly.
Not dust, you know.
No it ain't. No point in denying it.
He held himself, burrowed farther away. I'll get the rest off in the morning.
Wash ėtil you bleed, it ain't dust.
He squeezed his eyes tightly shut. Please.
It's the truth.
It was a dream.
It was real. It happened.
He bit back a scream, but couldn't stop the whimper. I don't want it to be.
Doesn't matter. What is, is.
A soft cry. The voice never let him lie. Damn the voice.
Hushed whispers. He stared around him. People glanced, but quickly looked away. Whispers.
The room was crowded and hot. Black was not meant for this kind of weather. He brushed at the dust on his black suit jacket. Must have gotten some on him while he stood near the hole. He closed his eyes, remembering how deep it seemed, how the coffin just seemed to go down, down, down, stirring up the dust, settling in it.
There had been a lot of people, but no one had spoken to him. Then or now. They all knew, it was his fault.
He rose, walked past the table laden with food. People moved out of his way, careful not to touch him.
He needed to shower, to get the dust off.
Murdock wiped his arm across his brow as he looked through the layer of dust that coated the van's window. There in all its glory was The Floor ėEm. He winced. I thought my days of redneck bars were long over with when I left Texas, he thought to himself. Hell, and this was as redneck as they came.
He was hot and sticky and wishing he was anyplace but here. Anyplace. The heat that rose from the dirt driveway brought with it the smell of old beer and vomit. If he closed his eyes, he could hear the sounds of sickness.
Damn you, Facey, for talking me into this. And now, just to add icing to the cake, you got Boy George. Yeah, some guy with eye makeup and glitter's gonna go over real big with these guys.
He hated this place. Or, more specifically, he hated anyplace like this. Dark, rancid smelling and loud with the sounds of people who had too much time and drink. If he came back at night, he'd probably smell the sweat of too many people crammed into too small a space before he even opened the door. Leaning back, he closed his eyes, forcing away images that were best left forgotten. Damn you, Face, he thought again.
At the sound of a car pulling up, Murdock became alert. Three men, all big, all looking like they belonged there, made their way into the bar. Murdock shook his head. This was not good. The bar was closed. They must be there for ėbusiness' purposes. Lord only knew what kind of business, but he was sure it was not the type that was conducted over linen tablecloths at lunch.
He thought about following them in, then hesitated. Whatever their reason for being there, it probably had nothing to do with Face. Face had already paid up front to rent the bar, so what would they care who sang? Chuck could laugh his way to the bank. No, there shouldn't be any trouble until later, when tables full of drunken men expecting to see a country-western singer and got instead, well, Boy George.
Still, Face was in there without a weapon. Unless you counted the smile. And he suspected that it wouldn't work on these guys. Knew it wouldn't.
He got out of the van.
"Okay, partner, let me say this so you hear. I want Cowboy George. I don't want no English Glitter Prince. Now Cowboy George shows up or you show up with a concrete bathrobe at the bottom of Fraser Dam."
Murdock stayed in the shadows for a moment, watched as Face was grabbed and held, as realization dawned on Face that there was no talking his way out of it. It was the stutter. Face always stuttered when he got nervous. Enough.
Murdock moved into sight, drawing his gun and aiming it at the man who stood in front of Face. There was an audible click as the gun was readied.
"Let him loose, Chucky. Besides inking pads and skying here and there, I also like to blow holes in the heads of rednecks." Murdock's voice was controlled, each word said clearly and without hesitation. For the briefest of moments he felt the urge to pull the trigger as time slipped.
Chuck must have seen something in the look, recognized the resolution to carry out the threat, no, promise. He let go of Face, his men following suit.
Murdock did not move until Face had left with Boy George.
Face slammed the van door behind Boy George. "Thanks, Murdock," he said as he walked around towards the driver's side door. "What was up with those guys? You know, I think..." Face stopped. "Hey, what's wrong?"
Murdock stood staring at the door of the bar, the gun now at his side but still held tightly. His face was pale and he was breathing heavily.
The pilot shook himself, visibly regaining control. "Let's just get out of here."
Face paused, wanted to say more, but decided against it. Something was obviously not right, but now was not the time to discuss it. He climbed behind the wheel and pulled the van out of the parking lot.
The ride back to the motel was quiet. Except for Boy George's humming, no other sound was made. Murdock remained uncharacteristically silent, his eyes fixed forward. As Face drove, he stole sideways glances at him, noting how the muscles of Murdock's jaw kept clenching and unclenching. Noticed him occasionally rubbing his hands up and down his arms, as if trying rid himself of something.
Something was very wrong here.
He'd seen Murdock hurt, in the throes of passion, and angry. But the intensity that he saw in the brown eyes now surpassed all of those. It came from somewhere that Face had not been, somewhere inside of Murdock that had been kept secret, locked away from even Face.
What had shaken Murdock so badly? It had to be more than the deal going bad, or even the fact that Face had been threatened. No, those were not unfamiliar things. It was something else, something more.
The van pulled to a stop in front of the motel, billows of dust slow to settle behind it. Murdock turned around to Boy George and spoke for the first time since leaving the bar. "Here's the key. It's room 9. Face and I'll be there in a little while."
"Righto, then," the man said as he eyed Murdock oddly. Whatever was going on, he did not want to be a part of it. He got out of the van.
The pilot cut him off. "Not here. In the room." Murdock did not wait for a response. He was halfway to their room before Face had begun to follow.
Face entered the room, closing the door behind him. The click of its shutting had not died when Murdock pushed him up against the wall.
"Hey, what..." Face started, but Murdock was already yelling.
"What the hell were you thinking, Face? You go into that place with no gun, no backup. Stupid! Those guys could have killed you!" Murdock's face was inches from his friend's. He held Face's shoulders, not gently, as he kept him against the wall.
Face tried to push Murdock away, but the pilot did not let go. "You were my backup, Murdock, you know that. Besides, we weren't expecting trouble. Now let go!"
Murdock pushed harder. "You of all people should expect trouble. You attract it like a magnet. I was an idiot for letting you talk me into this whole thing in the first place! Some stupid, half-assed money making scheme in some hole of a backwoods bar. And, surprise surprise, it's blowing up in our faces because you had to trust some idiot back in L.A." The look Face had seen earlier was back in Murdock's eyes. "And now we're stuck dealing with a bunch of rednecks. What do you know about people like that? Huh, Face, what do you know?"
The words stung, but Face bit back his response. There was something terribly wrong with this picture, something behind Murdock's words. "Murdock, what's going on here, really?" Face asked softly.
Murdock let go of Face, turning away. "You took a dumb risk. I'm angry, that's all."
Face came up behind Murdock, put his arms around the pilot's waist. "It's more than that. Tell me."
Murdock pulled away. "Leave me alone, Face. Why don't you go and call Hannibal and see if he can salvage something out of this mess?"
That had not just stung this time, it hurt.
Murdock saw the hurt. Damn you, Face. Damn me. "I'm gonna take a shower."
Face took a step towards him.
"Alone." The bathroom door closed, punctuating the statement.
Face sat on the bed, listening to the water run. He replayed the events at the bar over and over in his mind, trying to discover what he had missed. He gave up long before the water stopped running.
"You still here?"
Face stared at him. Murdock was wrapped in a towel. His skin was red.
Face said nothing.
"Did you call Hannibal?"
Face just kept looking at him.
"Don't you have something to do?"
Face slowly shook his head, but remained silent.
Murdock turned his back on him. Stared at an ugly painting of fruit without really seeing it. He rubbed his arms.
The silence stretched into minutes.
Face walked up behind him, pulled him to him. The body he held remained unyielding.
Face held on, gently. Did not let go.
A slow surrender as the Murdock leaned into him.
"You want to tell me about it?"
Face rocked him, both of them gently swaying as they stood there.
Murdock felt himself giving in. No. He wouldn't. He needed to control, to feel in control. "I need you." It was said softly, almost pleading.
Face didn't question it. Just lead Murdock to the bed.
Murdock watched as Face began to undress. Buttons. The buttons took so long to undo.
Face rose, pulled the shirt off, started to fold it when he felt Murdock's hands undoing his pants, reaching into the briefs and squeezing. He moaned, dropping the shirt as Murdock continued to fondle him.
"Sit," Murdock said.
Murdock pulled off Face's shoes and socks, tugged the pants down and tossed them aside. Face wriggled, sliding the briefs off of his hips, kicking them away. Then Murdock was there, pulling him down onto the bed, kissing him hard, his hands running up and down Face's chest.
Face returned the kiss. Things were moving fast. Their lovemaking was always passionate, sometimes slow, sometimes not, but this was frenzied. Almost out of control. He felt dizzy with the force.
Murdock pushed his hips into Face's erection, grinding, both men gasping at the sensation. Murdock pushed harder. Face groaned.
"Face, inside you..." Murdock pleaded. His eyes were wild.
"Yes..." was all Face could say. He looked at those eyes, shivering a little at what he saw.
Face reached for the lube, barely covering Murdock's erection before Murdock whispered, "Now, Facey."
Face raised his hips, spreading his legs more. Fear mingled with desire.
Murdock entered Face in one swift motion, his hands gripping Face's hips hard enough to leave bruises. He wanted to push, push hard. There was a gasp from the man beneath him. Murdock looked down. The blue eyes were clenched shut and Face's hands gripped the sheets, his body shivering slightly.
A fog seemed to lift from Murdock at the sight. He realized what he was doing and whom he was doing it to. A sob caught in his throat. "Sorry," he whispered, tears in his eyes. He started to pull out.
"'S'okay," Face managed, eyes still shut. "Love you. Ready."
Murdock wanted to stop, but he needed release. He forced himself to move slowly at first, then thrust harder, lengthening his strokes, his hand rubbing up and down Face's penis in a matching rhythm until Face was writhing beneath him.
This was right. Trust, permission, love.
Murdock groaned, so close now. When he felt Face begin to spasm, heard the guttural moan as he came, he pushed one last time, crying out with the force of his own climax. He collapsed on top of Face, all energy gone. His body shook with release, release of energy and demons both.
Face put his arms around Murdock, held him tight. Tenderly, Face kissed him, ran his hand through the wispy hair. Waiting, holding Murdock, until the other man's body had calmed, the rise and fall of the chest slowing. What had just happened frightened Face as much as it had excited him. There was a moment when Murdock's need seemed too much, too wild. Face's own demons were never far away and the memories had crowed in, threatening to drown him. But he remembered whom he was with. Trust won out.
"I love you." A soft kiss. Face brushed away the tears on Murdock's cheek.
"Facey, I'm sorry, I..."
"You stopped, you didn't hurt me." Another kiss. "I'd like to help."
Murdock shifted, felt a hand rub his back. He listened to the heart beating inside the chest he rested on. Face had not questioned his need, merely accepted and given himself to Murdock. Trust and love. It had come harder to Face than to Murdock and until now, Murdock hadn't quite understood how fully Face had given himself over to them. Given himself to Murdock.
"It was a long time ago."
Face brushed a hand across Murdock's cheek. "Can you tell me?"
"The bar, those guys wanting to hurt you, it reminded me..."
Face held him a little tighter. "Of what?"
Murdock was silent for a while. Face waited.
"I was kid, just turned eighteen," Murdock finally said, "and Jimmy and I were gonna celebrate. You know, go out and get drunk. Jim was my best friend at the time. More than just a friend. We didn't think that anyone knew. We were always careful. Rural Texas wasn't someplace you wanted people to know about that."
"We went to the Slug Back, the only bar in town, figuring we'd start there, see how things went, maybe move onto the next town later."
Murdock absently rubbed Face's arm, hand lingering over a scar. "God, it was seedy. It smelled like sweat and alcohol, and I remember the floor being sticky from all the spilt beer. There were maybe fifteen, twenty guys there, a couple of women maybe. It wasn't the kind of place most women would go."
"We should never have gone there, but we didn't know any better. We sat at the bar, hadn't finished our first beer when it started."
Murdock paused, closing his eyes, remembering.
"Looky what we got here, a coupla faggots." Buzzi Dening, part-time janitor at the high school and resident alcoholic.
Everything seemed to freeze, the words hanging in the air above the din of the jukebox and drunken conversation, now dying down to a low buzz.
Murdock heard the boots as they moved heavily across the wooden floor. They stopped behind him, the owner shoving him hard into the rail of the bar.
A few snickers rolled across the room.
Jimmy turned to Murdock. "Come on, HM, let's get out of here." His voice was scared, higher-pitched than normal.
They turned, but Buzzi was there, right behind them, all six-foot three and two hundred seventy pounds of him.
"You're not goin' nowhere." He reached past them to one of the glasses on the bar. "You ain't finished your beers yet." Slowly, he poured what was left in the glass over Jimmy's head.
Murdock took in the scene around them. Several men had moved in close to Buzzi. Everyone else was watching, waiting.
"Listen, Denning," Murdock tried to sound older, tougher than he felt, "I don't know what you're talking about. We just came in for a drink. No trouble. Just let us leave, okay?"
Denning sneered at him, then turned to the audience behind him. "I don't know what you're talkin' about," he mimicked, making his voice sound high and feminine. "Like hell you don't! You don't think I know what you two are? I seen you once. Thought you was so clever, hiding it. But I saw you two. Enough to turn my stomach. You're a coupla of queers, and there ain't no place for that, it's sick. Maybe you need to be taught that that kinda thing ain't right."
Murmurs now. Someone banged a cue stick against the pool table.
Both boys paled. They tried to push their way past Denning, but he grabbed Jimmy while someone else took a hold of Murdock.
Murdock drew a long breath, felt Face hold him tighter.
He'd had fought hard, managed to knee one of the men holding him in the groin. For one brief moment he thought they would get out. But Denning had Jimmy, was already dragging him to the back room. Murdock grabbed for Denning, but someone was faster. He felt the cue stick connect with his side. Suddenly he was on that floor, his face pressed against the tacky wood. He'd never forget that smell.
"I remember lying on that floor, and the jukebox was playing Patsy Cline singing Blue Moon of Kentucky. ėShine on the one that's gone and left me blue'." Murdock let out a mirthless laugh. "Funny how you remember things like that. Someone was kicking me. Then I was being dragged across the floor, into the backroom where Denning already had Jimmy."
Face held Murdock, rocking him gently.
He was thrown down hard onto the end of the pool table, the wood edging pushing into his stomach. Hands held him there. Across from him, Jimmy was jammed up against the other side of the table, held in place by two men. Denning ripped Jimmy's pants off him. Someone handed Denning a bottle.
"You like things up your ass, you queer. I got somethin' for you."
The screams never seemed to end.
When it was done, Jimmy just laid there, half on, half off the table. His eyes were open but not seeing anything. There was blood. Murdock never thought that you could really smell blood, but he did. It mixed with the sour odor of beer. Murdock started to vomit.
"Jesus!" one of the men holding him swore.
Someone threw beer on Murdock. He heard rough laughter as someone said something about beer smelling better than puke. Then Denning was beside him, it was his turn. Murdock kicked out, felt his foot connect with someone, heard a muffled curse. It didn't help. He felt his pants pulled off, felt the cold of a bottle on his skin. He screamed as it was rammed in. He felt the glass as it slid out and he tensed, waiting for the next assault.
Then from behind him, he heard a shout. When the bottle did not return, he rolled his head to the other side. In the smoky haze of the room, he saw Denning still next to him, blood drizzling down his forehead and blending with the dark, checkered pattern of his shirt. Facing off against Denning stood Murdock's brother, pool cue held bat style, ready to swing again.
"Everything was so still. Even the jukebox had stopped," Murdock said. "Denning just stood there, real quiet. I remember seeing him reach up and wipe at the blood on his face. He looked at his hand as if he couldn't figure out what it was. Then he just kind of...exploded."
Murdock took a shuddering breath and held on to Face even tighter. "One minute he was staring at his hand, the next he had my brother by the throat. I can't even remember seeing him move. Cab tried to bring the stick up, but Denning was already driving him back into the wall. I hadn't even gotten all the way up when I heard the crack of something hitting the wall, hard."
Murdock closed his eyes. "I stumbled over to Denning, fell into him when I tripped up on my pants. I started to pound on his back. He let go of Cab then to turn around to grab me. Cab just slid down. There was this dark spot on the wall where his head had hit."
Face stroked Murdock's hair, listening quietly.
"That was the first time I blacked out, just kind of shut down. I don't remember much of what happened after that, not until the funeral. Just bits and pieces, like still shots in my head. I don't know how I got out of the bar, but I walked home. Showered. It's all fuzzy after that."
A deep sigh. "Cab was dead, I never saw Jimmy again. Found out that he had left town. I left not longer after. Grandma said she didn't want to have anything to do with a queer boy who had gotten his brother killed."
Face said nothing, there were no words that could ease the pain Murdock felt. He just kept holding on, a lifeline between the memories and reality.
For a long time the only sound was that of Murdock's ragged breathing.
Murdock wiped away his tears. "When I saw those guys today, saw them grab you..."
"Shh, I'm safe." Face stroked Murdock's cheek.
Murdock's voice was shaky, barely above a whisper. "From them, maybe. But I lost it, Face. I...I almost...I wanted to fight back, but it was you I hurt, not them. I can't..."
Face gently eased himself up and cupped Murdock's face in his hands. "Listen to me. I'm okay. You didn't hurt me; you could never hurt me. I trust you, Murdock."
They lay together on the bed. The afternoon sun crept around the heavy, closed curtains. The room was hot, musty with sweat and old fabric, but neither man got up to turn on the air conditioner. From another room, the sound of a radio filtered through, the words indistinct but the steady rhythm of the song somehow soothing. Murdock, exhausted, fell asleep, head resting on Face's chest. And Face held him as he slept.
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