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Make Way for Murdock

Make Way for Murdock

by SherryGabs       ©2001

 

Rating:  R overall (any NC-17 parts will be labeled as such)  

Disclaimer:  SJC and Co own the boys. I'm not making any money, just using and abusing them.

Warning:  Slash, language, fun and unexpected surprises

Summary:  Just why is Murdock making Face's life so difficult?

 

===========

 

Part 1

 

"Templeton, not agaaaain!" the blond stewardess whined into the phone. "Between my flight schedule and your business trips, we hardly get to see each other as it is!"

 

"I know, Audrey, I know," Face poured on the charm. "But he's a very dear friend  who's been having some troubles. He really needs my help today. Will you be home tomorrow? We could get together then."

 

"Noooo! I'm leaving late tonight for Paris. I won't be back in LA until next Friday."

 

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he tried to soothe her. "I promise I'll make it up to you."

 

He heard her "humph" through the phone line. "Don't bother, Templeton! Go to your little friend. Just don't expect me to be sitting around waiting for you to fit me into your schedule. You're not the only man in the world, you know. There are plenty of others who would love to show me some interest."

 

"Audrey, please!" Face begged. "I do want to be with you. It's just that–"

 

"Obviously not enough! Goodbye, Templeton!" With that, she hung up. Disconnecting herself from his life forever.

 

"Dammit!" Face fumed, slamming the receiver down. Shaking his head in aggravation, he muttered, "Murdock, whatever trouble you're in, it had better be good!"

 

He yanked at the knot in his tie, heading back to his closet. He certainly wasn't going to waste a good designer suit on the nutzoid pilot who'd called just minutes earlier frantically telling Face he had to pick him up as soon as he could. That it was extremely important....a matter of life and death....that his world would come to an end if Face didn't get him out of there!

 

Face thought of possible scenarios on his way to the VA. Maybe Decker was riding him again, or maybe an orderly was taking out some frustrations on him. It wouldn't be the first time, and if Murdock dared fight back, he'd be put in a straightjacket and sedated for sure. Maybe another patient was giving him a hard time. Who knows?

 

Face tried not to think of the other two times Murdock had interfered with his time with Audrey. Both times had been minor things. But Face had given in to him, not wanting to upset his best friend. So he'd taken Murdock out for comic books and bubble gum the first time; the second time Murdock just seemed to want company, so they sat around talking about nothing in particular. The question of why Murdock chose to call him over at the same times he had dates with Audrey was never asked.

 

But the question was there. Face knew he had told Murdock his plans just so he'd know not to expect him to be home, because twice in the last couple of weeks he'd called and expected Face to drop everything and come over. But Murdock had called anyway, sounding desperate. It was getting irritating.

 

Especially now that Audrey had dropped him because of it. They'd been dating over two months now; that was pretty long for Face to be with one woman. Maybe it was because they were separated alot of the time, but Face actually looked forward to being with her. She was fun to be with, interesting, smart in her own way. And the nights.... He'd definitely met his match in that department. In bed, she was his every desire wrapped up in one neat, gorgeous, petite, blond package.

 

He wouldn't go so far as to say he was in love with her. He wasn't even sure if he knew what real love was. But thought, in time, she could fit into that picture he drew in his mind of what love could be.

 

He shook his head. 'Too late for that now,'  he thought, pulling into the long drive to the VA. He didn't have to go very far. Murdock jumped out of the bushes along the drive just ahead of the white Corvette. Face hit the brakes and stared at him in frustration.

 

Since the top was off the car, Murdock just jumped over the door and plopped down into the leather seat. He grinned over at the driver, "Hiya, Facey! Glad you could make it."

 

Face thought he sounded a little too chipper for someone whose life was supposedly being threatened. He did a U-turn and sped back down the drive before anybody could see them leaving.

 

"So what's the emergency?"

 

"Huh?" Murdock asked, looking perplexed at the driver.

 

"You said it was important, a matter of life or death...... What's going on?" Face asked impatiently, giving Murdock a similar perplexed look.

 

"Oh!" Murdock looked away, so Face couldn't see his new panicked look. "Um....uh...." He drummed his fingers on the door, trying to come up with something good. "It's like this...."

 

'Think! Think, muchacho!'  Murdock thought to himself. He couldn't just come right out and say he really wanted to go to this shindig tonight or that he'd rather Face be with him than with that ding-a-ling, stuck-up girl. Not since he knew Face had to break a date to get him. He decided to settle for a half-truth and face the consequences later. Face certainly wouldn't ditch him after finding out where they were going....would he?

 

"I'll just have to show you," he shifted a nervous look to Face. "Let's go to Martin's Airfield. I'll explain it there."

 

"The airfield?" Face looked confused. "Plan on flying somewhere?"

 

"Nooooo!" Murdock sighed loudly. "There's just something going on there that I have to investigate. And it has to be this evening." Face was about to question him more, but Murdock broke him off before he could. "Just go! Go-go-go-go!" he gestured to the road impatiently.

 

Too annoyed to say another word, Face shook his head and headed towards the airfield, which wouldn't take long to get to. As they approached the airfield, Face saw all the cars parked in a makeshift lot and what was laid out beyond them. His eyes widened at the carnival rides, game booths and food stands that had been set up. There were also a variety of planes and helicopters on display in the field for the enthusiasts.

 

Murdock looked at the carnival in wide-eyed joy while Face parked the car in cool silence. He looked at his passenger with an icy stare, seeing the excitement on his face. This made him even more angry. 'Of all the selfish—'

 

"This is what was so important?" Face gestured towards the carnival. "This is the matter of life or death? This is the reason I had to break my date with Audrey?!" His voice was raising in anger with each question. "So you could get me to drive you to a fucking carnival!! WELL, IS IT?" he shouted loudly.

 

Murdock cringed, finding a spot on the dashboard suddenly very interesting to stare at. 'What was Face so mad about? Doesn't he want to be with me?'

 

He got out of the car, or more like out of Face's reach. "Well," he said in a quiet, childlike voice. "It's the last night for it. I couldn't miss it." He put the most pathetic, sad look in his brown eyes and looked at Face. "Come on, Facey. It'll be fun."

 

The puppy dog look had no effect on Face. He was more than angry. He slammed his door shut after getting out and got right in front of Murdock, poking his shoulder none too lightly for emphasis. "What the hell were you thinking? You knew I had plans. Why couldn't you have just taken a taxi, or even the bus?"

 

"It wouldn't've been any fun by myself. I wanted my best friend with me, and that's you!" Murdock had a pained expression. "What are you so upset about? You can't miss one evening with little Miss What'shername?"

 

Murdock regretted his last words as the daggers flew from Face's eyes. He knew damn well he'd interfered more than once. He also caught the sound of jealousy in his words, and  hoped Face didn't.

 

"Her name is Audrey," Face said pointedly. "And that's just it, Murdock! I can only see her once or twice a week, when our schedules permit. And this makes the third time you've screwed it up! SHE BROKE UP WITH  ME BECAUSE OF YOU!!"

 

Murdock stepped back from the shock of the anger coming from his best friend. Face was flushed, he was breathing heavily. Murdock was confused. Face had never shown this kind of emotion after breaking up with a woman. He'd just go on to the next one, one right after the other. Why would this one be any different?

 

"I'm sorry, Face. I didn't know. Okay? I just don't understand where you're coming from. I mean, she's just another chick, right? There's no love lost, is there?" 'Please say there's not,'  he silently begged.

 

A little of Face's anger diffused at the apology. He knew he wasn't "in love" with Audrey, but he had liked her very much, so it had still hurt a little when she broke it off. But that wasn't all, and Murdock didn't seem to get it.

 

"No, there's no love lost. But she is more than just a chick. I happened to really like her. But that’s not all there is to it, Murdock." He tilted his head and looked at Murdock as if trying to make a child understand. "You cannot expect me to just drop everything every time you get a whim. And lately that seems to be on the same nights you knew I had plans with Audrey. What is with that? It's like you're purposely trying to come between us!"

 

'I don’t want you to be with her,'  Murdock sadly thought to himself. 'Why can't you just want to be with me? I can make you happy, too.'

 

Pushing those covetous thoughts to the back of his mind, Murdock decided it was best to turn the tables a bit to cover up his feelings. "You're getting a little paranoid, Facey. Next you'll be accusing me of trying to steal her from you. And I'd almost feel flattered, but she's not my type." Giving Face an exaggerated smug smile, Murdock lifted his ball cap from his head, did a precision half-turn on his heel and let the cap drop back down on his head backwards. He started walking slowly towards the carnival.

 

"What!?" Face stared in amazement at the retreating back. He caught up with Murdock and walked sideways next to him so he could look at him. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

 

Murdock fiddled with something in his pocket and kept a leisurely pace. "Just that if she's anything like most of the other girls you know, she ain't worth my time or energy. You shouldn't be wasting yours, either."

 

"Now wait a minute!" Face grabbed Murdock's arm to stop him. "You've never even met Audrey. You know nothing about her. How can you, of all people, judge her like that?"

 

"Well, she dumped you pretty quick, didn't she?" He looked at Face, daring him to deny the truth. "She obviously doesn't like you putting anyone ahead of her for any reason. And she probably said something along the line of 'there's plenty of other fish out there in the sea'." He shot Face another smug smile. "Am I right?"

 

Face stared at him, his mouth trying to form words. Murdock started walking again. "I thought so."

 

'How did he do that?'  Face wondered to himself, shaking his head and following Murdock. He was still angry. Not only because Murdock had ruined his evening with Audrey; but, now, also because he had proved to be right and was so damn complacent about it!

 

 

Part 2

 

Finally entering the carnival, Murdock raised his arms and breathed deeply. "Ahhh, this is the life. I could spend everyday at one of these. Maybe I was destined to be a carney worker."

 

Face gave him a sideways glance and smirked. "Nope. You're already where you were destined to be. In a nuthouse....not a funhouse."

 

Murdock dropped his arms and glared unamused. "Oh, that's real funny, Face. Just real, real, funny." He gestured forward. "Can we go have some fun now?"

 

"Fun? Sure. Right," Face said, fully intending to have none whatsoever.

 

After a while, though, Face decided to have some fun....by making Murdock mad. He figured Murdock didn't seem to have any qualms about making his evening miserable, so maybe he should just reciprocate.

 

The pilot begged and begged for Face to go on rides with him. Every time Face refused. When Murdock finally asked him why, Face smiled dreamily and said, "If someone is going to be clinging to me on the Scrambler, I would prefer someone a little softer and with more curves."

 

Murdock turned away before Face could see him redden. He walked away mumbling.

 

Between all the rides and food he'd bought Murdock ran out of money before he got many games in. The only things he'd been able to win for himself were a giant pair of sunglasses and a whistle. Face wouldn't give him anymore money, but played the games himself, winning two big armfuls of stuffed animals.

 

"Now what am I going to do with all these?" Face asked with a false look of serious concern. "Hmmm?"

 

Before Murdock could even finish thinking of ways to display them in his room at the VA, which is where he had assumed they would go, Face solved the dilemma himself. He began to hand them out to children as they passed, telling the kids to give the stuffed animal a good home. Murdock's expression grew more panicky with each "Gee, thanks, Mister!" that Face received.

 

"Uh, F-Face? Y-You're not going to g-give them all away, are you?" he asked nervously.

 

"Why not? I don't want them," Face said nonchalantly, as if he didn't know Murdock was desperate to get his hands on them.

 

When he got down to the last toy, Murdock knew he couldn't let this one get away. It was a brown monkey wearing a red T-shirt with a yellow 'M' on it and a blue baseball cap with a yellow 'M'. Not only did it have his letter, it had Velcro paws so he could wrap its arms around his neck. Just as Face was about to hand it to a little boy who was passing by with his mother, Murdock grabbed it and hugged it to his chest.

 

"Didn't you ever tell your child not to accept gifts from strangers?!" he glared maniacally at the woman.

 

The boy looked up at him wide-eyed and frightened. His mother took his hand and pulled him away. "Of all the gall...." she could be heard saying walking away.

 

"Sorry, ma'am!" Face shouted towards her, then turned with eyes blazing towards Murdock. "I do not believe you did that!"

 

"I can't believe you just gave all them away! You know how much I like stuffed animals in my room!" Murdock looked hurt and angry. "Why are you being such a jackass anyway? You wouldn't go on any rides with me, you wouldn’t give me any money, and then you gave away all my toys!"

 

"Yours huh? Would you listen to yourself! You're acting like a freakin' four-year-old!" Face pulled Murdock off to the side when he noticed people were staring at them. "It's not me who's being the jackass," Face continued his tirade. "I had a wonderful evening planned, but you screwed that up. You tricked me into bringing you here and now you expect me to forget everything and show you a good time!?" He paused to collect his wits.

 

"I can admit it. I did all this tonight to get back at you. To make you realize that I will not be taken advantage of . That's the trouble with you, Murdock. You expect everyone to make you happy, and you expect people to spoil you. Maybe it's partially my fault. Maybe I've indulged you too much over the years. But that does not give you an excuse to act so damned childish!"

 

"You're just bein' mean! Just plain mean!" Murdock shot back, pouting. "You just don't want me to have any fun!" He knew he was going overboard and not making any sense. He knew he was falling into his child-like world where no one would expect anything from him. Just one of many worlds he'd created for himself to escape reality. He wanted to just stay in this place, until Face cooled down and would want to make things up with him. Which usually involved indulging his childish side even more.

 

"Oh, geez," Face mumbled and threw his arms up in exasperation. "That's it, Murdock. I think we've both had enough of this. Come on, I'm taking you back to the VA."

 

"No!" Murdock stepped back. "I haven't seen the birds yet. I want to go see the birds."

 

Face was nearing the end of his rope. He had a feeling that if he forced Murdock to leave now, he could create quite a scene. He also felt an overwhelming need to get away from Murdock before he did lose whatever patience he had left. "Okay, fine. Go see the planes. After that, we're leaving." He pointed to a picnic table next to a corndog vendor. "I'll be waiting at that table. Do you think you can find your way back all by yourself, or should I just wait at the lost parent booth?"

 

"You are s-s-such a-a-a- JERK!" Murdock yelled, huffing heavily. "I don't know what I see in you. I don't know why I even bother!" He turned and stomped off in the general direction of the field where the aircraft were.

 

"What the hell was that about?" Face asked himself with a dumbfounded look. Shaking his head in resignation he started off towards the picnic table. "He's a nutcase! A certified, absolute, without-a-doubt, loony bin-bound, psycho NUT!" He straightened up suddenly and looked around to see if anyone noticed he was talking to himself. Satisfied, he cleared his throat, and ran his hand down his chest and stomach. His eye caught sight of a young woman in a very short skirt approaching the corndog vendor. He tapped his fingers on his belt buckle and smiled. 'Maybe tonight won't be such a washout after all,'  he thought.

 

Any memory of Audrey was forgotten when the woman stooped to retrieve her dropped purse. "Yyyeeess," he drawled, thinking something to eat might be nice.

 

===========

 

Murdock walked like a ghost towards the open field. He barely heard the sounds of thrilled laughter, bells, hawkers and rides that came from all around him. He kept walking, seeking solace; wanting to find someplace to hide and think for a while. Reaching the field, he was no longer interested in looking at all the planes and choppers that were out, which he had looked so forward to earlier. Now he just wanted to find one to crawl into and think about what a mess he'd made of things.

 

He looked around and saw a small chopper standing alone, no one else was around it or seemed interested in it. It was bland and a little beat-up looking, appearing to have seen a lot of air miles. It wasn't much compared to some of the other aircraft displayed. He went to it and ran his hand along the side as he approached the cockpit.

 

"You look how I feel. Perfect combination." Murdock looked around to see if anyone was watching, then climbed inside, and nestled in the pilot's seat. He sat the monkey and the giant sunglasses on the passenger seat. He touched the familiar controls gently and glanced over to the monkey. "Don't get to fly these much. Used to all the time, during the war. It's mostly planes now, even they're few and too far between."

 

He blew out a sad breath. That overwhelming childish frame of mind he'd had was gone, replaced by morose and guilt. "I really lost it, didn't I....uh...." He picked the monkey up again, wondering about a name for it. "Möbius. That'll work. Course, that kid probably could've come up with a name a little more popular than a 19th century German mathematician, but to me you look like a Möbius." He adjusted the hat on the monkey. "Only I could come up with something like that. Just goes to show how different I am."

 

"I don't know why I do some of the things I do," he continued. "Grabbing you from that kid, acting like a spoiled brat. That was just wrong. Face was right about that. I really messed up with him tonight; I never should have called him. I honestly didn't know he liked the girl that much. It's just that....I really wanted to be with him. I hate sharing him....with anyone. He doesn't know how I really feel about him, and I can't tell him. It's been like this for as long as I've known him just about."

 

"Most of the time I can handle it. I can control those urges cause I know he'd never go for it. He's as straight as they come. But every now and then....I don't know....I guess it's when he lets the real him show. You see, Möbius, when he forgets he's a scamming, playboy con artist he's actually one hell of a genuinely, honest nice guy. He'd give his right arm if he thought it would make you happy. He's always fun to be around. Except for tonight, maybe, but that's really my fault, isn't it? I don't think he's ever been that angry at me." Murdock felt compelled to come to his own defense about certain things. "He didn't have to be so vindictive, though, did he? And the sarcasm was a bit much, even for him."

 

"What should I do?" He looked into the monkey's brown plastic eyes, hoping the answers were there. "I know I should apologize for acting like a little kid. But what about everything else? Should I just continue to hide what I feel for him. I mean, there's just no way he'd go for someone like me anyway. But like Doc Richter says, it's not good to keep secrets buried when letting them out will make more room in your mind for better things to occupy. Or should I tell him I love him so it's out in the open, then force myself to accept his rejection. I know he'd still let me be his friend, but would it change the friendship we've always had?"

 

Murdock shook his head and rubbed his eyes. He was giving himself a headache with all the questions. "You ain't gonna give me any answers, are you, Möbius?" He sighed heavily, reached for the sunglasses and put them on over his ball cap so they were resting on the bill. He got out of the chopper and wrapped the monkey's arms around his neck and let him hang down his back. "Well, what say we sleep on it tonight. Face ain't in any mood right now to hear a confession like that anyway. Knowing him, he's probably sittin' over there worried sick about me. Let's get back to him 'fore he starts searching."

 

 

Part 3

 

Murdock retraced his steps back to the midway fully intending to apologize for his behavior and for causing the breakup between Face and Audrey. He genuinely felt bad about it and was even trying to think up ways to make it up to Face.  He noticed the crowd had thinned out quite a bit and figured it must be getting late. 'Face'll probably ask me to stay in his guest room tonight. I'll fix him a big breakfast in the morning. He'll like that after his morning run. Maybe I'll wash his car, too; inside and out. Make it really shine. He loves that c–'

 

His good deed thoughts were broken as he came around the ring-toss booth and saw Face sitting at the table where they were supposed to meet.....along with a very tightly and revealingly clothed brunette. He shrank back against the booth so Face wouldn't notice him and observed the two of them.

 

The more he watched Face work his magic on the girl, the more angry he became. He swung Möbius around to his front. "Do you see what he's doing? How much of this evening has he been ranting and raving about losing little Miss Perfect and he's already got another one on the line!" Murdock fumed over having spent a single moment feeling guilty or remorseful. "You ever see anyone bounce back from heartbreak so quick?" He looked at the monkey as if expecting a yes or no. "Only Faceman could, Möbius. Only Faceman. He wouldn't know real love if it pulled a rug right out from under him."

 

Murdock continued watching, feeling only slightly voyeuristic. His facial expressions reflected each action he observed. He knew everything he was feeling was stemming from jealousy. Jealous that Face wasn't giving him that sultry look or saying just right the words to make him melt into a puddle.

 

"Would you look at what she's doing! Geez! Can a person be any more obvious!" He covered Möbius's eyes. "On second thought, don't look. You're too young." The girl and Face were sitting across from each other. Her very ample breasts actually resting on the table top, forcing them up and almost out of the low-cut blouse she was wearing. Face's eyes were going from this sight to the very suggestive way she was eating her corndog with a twinkle in her eye. It was obvious to Murdock that Face was struggling not to squirm in his seat.

 

"Oh, please!" Murdock gasped. "She isn't even doing that justice. Why I could–" he stopped when he saw Face reach a finger over to wipe a spot of mustard from the corner of  her mouth. The woman took his finger into her mouth and slowly sucked the mustard off. Face didn't even try to hide the pleasure he got from that.

 

Murdock couldn't take anymore. He couldn't stand seeing Face with that tramp. "I need a plan. Need a plan, need a plan...." he repeated to himself. Soon enough an evil smile played across his face. "Oh, Möbius, he is going to be soooo pissed off!"

 

Casually strutting closer to table, Murdock could hear Face saying, "....after I drop my friend off, you and I could go to your place and–"

 

"Hi there," Murdock interrupted.

 

Face looked up at him. "Oh, you're back."

 

'Yeah, I can tell you missed me,'  Murdock thought flatly.

 

"Is this your friend?" the woman asked. She looked at the sunglasses on Murdock's hat and the monkey around his neck, then looked away trying not to snicker.

 

"Yes," Face said, feeling slightly embarrassed at the getup. "HM Murdock, this is Tammy. Thought I'd give her a lift home after I drop you off."

 

Murdock made a great show of looking distressed about something. "Uh, Face?" He shoved his hands in his pockets, looked down and dug the toe of his shoe into the dirt. "You're not gonna leave poor Charlene alone at home all night again, are ya?"

 

Face looked at him in surprise. "Murdock, what are–"

 

"I mean, with the twins due at any minute, don't you think you should be home with her?" Murdock ignored the growing look of panic on Face. He heard Tammy gasp. "And who's going to take care of your other three kids if she goes into labor?"

 

"Murdock!" Face warned.

 

Tammy stood up then. "You're married?! With almost five kids?! And you're here trying to pick me up instead of being home with your family when they need you?!" She picked up her drink and threw it at him, cup and all. Face tried to fend off the attack as she threw their leftover food, napkins, whatever was left on the table at him, while screaming, YOU DIRTY, STINKING, LOUSY BASTARD!!" She walked the few feet to the corn dog vendor, grabbed a squirt bottle of mustard in one hand and a bottle of ketchup in the other. She let Face have it with both. "PEOPLE LIKE YOU MAKE ME SICK!" She threw the bottles at him and grabbed her purse to leave. Her chest heaved with each breath she took. She stopped beside Murdock and gave him a very sweet, sympathetic smile. "Thank you for not letting me make the biggest mistake of my life." She kissed his cheek and walked away quickly.

 

A small crowd had gathered to watch the scene and Face heard many chuckles as he continued to glare at Murdock, his eyes all but popping right out of their sockets. "Wh–Wha–Why–"

 

Murdock stared back, his mouth hanging open. Tammy's reaction had been so much better than he'd even hoped. Face was a mess. He was drenched in soda and condiments; and bits of food, napkins and straw wrappers stuck to him. After the initial shock wore off, Murdock couldn't stop the giggle that escaped. He pointed his finger at Face and moved it up and down, "I'm sorry, Face. But you–" He finally let go with the laughter that was dying to be let out. He knew this would just make Face more angry and that he probably wouldn't want to talk to him again for weeks; not until his ego got over the humiliation. But it was worth it. So damn worth it.

 

Face slowly stood up, scraping the loose stuff off himself. He was wet, sticky, miserable and very mad. He came up to Murdock and shoved him. "What the hell did you do that for? WHY THE HELL DID YOU MAKE UP THAT STORY? HUH?" He pushed the pilot back again.

 

Murdock kept his footing, forced his laughter to stop and held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, Face. Maybe it went a bit far...."

 

"A BIT FAR! LOOK AT ME!" Face screamed, advancing on Murdock again.

 

Murdock sidestepped him and joked, "Yeah, you look like you went on the Tilt-A-Whirl while trying to eat a Happy Meal."

 

Face got a manic look in his eyes and a loud growl came from deep in his throat. "I am going to kick your ass!" He charged at Murdock, this time knocking him to the ground. He straddled Murdock's waist and grabbed the collar of his jacket, pulling him up and shaking him. "Why, Murdock! You better give me one fucking good reason for making up that story!"

 

The pilot blew out a hard breath. "Okay. You want to know why?" He grabbed Face's wrists and yanked hard, forcing him to let go of his jacket. Face stood back up and Murdock got to his feet also. They were oblivious to the crowd standing around watching. "You went on and on and on about how much you liked Audrey and how mad you were at me for ruining your evening with her. You made me feel like such a goddamned heel and I come back here ready to beg your forgiveness. Only to find you with someone else ready to fill the empty spot in your bed before it even got cold!" Murdock bent down to pick up his ball cap. He smacked it against his leg to knock the dust off. "Sometimes I just get so upset seeing the way you play with people."

 

"I don't play with anyone who doesn't want to be played with," Face shot back. "What the hell do you care anyway? It's none of your damn business what I do!"

 

"All right now! What's going on here?" an authoritative voice boomed out.

 

Face and Murdock both looked to see two security guards approaching them. "Oh no!" Face moaned.

 

The security guards looked Face over and shook their heads. The older of the two said, "I asked you what was going on here? Aren't you two a bit old for food fights?"

 

Thinking it was probably unlikely that a couple of security guards would recognize Face, Murdock took their attention away from him anyway. "We just had a disagreement. We won't cause anymore trouble."

 

"Oh, I know you won't be causing anymore trouble," the guard stated. "Because you're both leaving. Right now."

 

"Fine with me," Face mumbled. He was still angry at Murdock's self-righteous attitude, and didn't want to be anywhere near the man anymore. He dug into his damp pocket for a handful of change and tossed it towards the pilot. "You can take the bus back to your home. Just stay away from me." Face turned and started walking away.

 

"Fine! I will!" Murdock shouted after him.

 

"Fine!" Face shouted back, then continued on his way to the parking lot.

 

The security guards told the people around them to go about their business, that the fun was over. Murdock stooped to pick up the change and his sunglasses. He brushed the dust off his clothes, noticing some ketchup and mustard had gotten smeared on him. He pulled Möbius around to check him over. The poor monkey had taken the brunt of the fall when Murdock had been pushed down. "It's okay, Möbius, we'll get you cleaned up. You're fine."

 

Murdock looked at his watch and sighed. "Not so fine is that we lost our place to sleep tonight. The VA's locked up tight as a drum by now." He started walking slowly, considering his options, and finding very few. He made his way over to the airfield office where he knew there was an outside payphone. Depositing a quarter, he dialed a number. "Only thing I can think of Möbius. Let's hope the Colonel ain't asleep yet."

 

 

Part 4

 

Face couldn't get home fast enough, never giving a second thought that he'd practically left Murdock stranded. Left on his own to get back to the VA. His reasoning after tossing the coins at him was that Murdock was a grown man; perfectly capable of riding a bus on his own. Although his behavior of that evening wouldn't prove that.

 

Most of the violent anger he'd had earlier had blown away with the warm night breeze the convertible offered him on the drive home. But he was left with one hell of a headache.

 

He turned the shower on as hot as his skin would allow and peeled off his grimy clothes. "Another perfectly fine shirt shot to hell," he groused, then tossed it into the wastebasket. He swallowed a few Tylenol from the medicine cabinet for his headache, not even daring to look in the mirror to see what might be making his face feel so sticky, then stepped into the steamy marble-walled shower.

 

Once the carnival fiasco was washed off, he adjusted the shower head to a massaging pulse and let the spurts of water bounce off his shoulders and back. The Tylenol was kicking in and now he could think with a much clearer head.

 

Over the years he had seen many sides and many moods to his best friend. Some from their early years, near the end of their part in the war and a couple of years after, were very dark. It was during these few years that Murdock had been at his worst mentally. Lost inside his own mind, living and reliving the hellish nightmares that had put him in the VA in the first place. Face was there for him every chance he could, helping him in ways that psychiatrists and drugs couldn't. By being the trusted inexhaustible listener, the warm arms of comfort and security, and occasional punching bag when Murdock thought he was lashing out an enemy or demon only he saw.

 

He wasn't nearly that bad off now, but could still occasionally backslide if under alot of stress or extreme emotion.

 

Then there was the fun-loving, goofy, impetuous, good-insane side that was usually prevalent. The one that made BA want to strangle him, and the one that made Hannibal and Face laugh. But there was also a side that was only seen every now and then. A deep-thinking, contemplative, intelligent, completely sane HM Murdock whose perceptive insight could look right into your soul and see the type of person you really are. Even if you do try to hide it from the world.

 

Face knew each of these sides of Murdock well and thought he had witnessed each side show itself that evening. It was obvious something was going on in Murdock's head to make him act as strangely as he had, but Face just couldn't figure out what. And what had he meant when he said, "I don't know what I see in you. Why do I even bother?" Did Murdock think he was doing him a favor by being his friend? Nah, Murdock wasn't the type to put restrictions on his friendships. He was an instant friend to everyone he met.

 

Having had enough of the watery fingers relaxing his tense muscles, Face shut the water off, grabbed the towel hanging by the shower door and rubbed his body down with it on his way to the bedroom. Feeling much more human now, he tossed the towel onto the wingback chair by the window and crawled between the deep blue silk sheets on the bed.

 

The question of what Murdock saw in him still nagged his mind. Face knew he'd always been a good friend to Murdock. Had always been there for him, made sure he had everything he needed. Wasn't he doing enough? Did Murdock expect more? How could he? The man had to realize that Face did have his own life. That between jobs they didn't need to spend every day together. At least he'd never complained about it before.

 

He had complained tonight about something. Face shook his head in confusion as to why Murdock would start judging his lifestyle. It had never seemed to bother him before.

 

This started Face on a self-exploratory tangent. He knew right away he was wrong about only playing with people who wanted to be played with. He used people constantly, whether they realized they were being used or not. It was a gift that at times he wished he didn't have. And what about Audrey? He thought he had really liked her, had felt awful when she broke off with him. Then why, only a few hours later, was he more than willing to take a complete stranger home to her bed?

 

Murdock had seen it easy enough and had called him out on it. He wondered if everyone saw him like that. Was he so quick to answer Murdock's judgment because he was maybe a little ashamed of his lack of sexual control or moral discernment and felt the senseless need to defend himself?

 

He thought back to the only time, the only relationship he'd ever had in his life, where he'd felt truly comfortable and secure enough with himself and her love that he'd considered marriage. But her love and devotion was called away to a higher power, and it had left him broken emotionally and spiritually. He didn't know at the time where she had gone and why; he just saw it as another kick in the stomach from his ever-present belief in abandonment and rejection.

 

Face had changed after that. He figured he'd had his one chance at true love and had blown it somehow. He intentionally chose women, or let women choose him, that were nothing at all like Leslie. After a while, it just became the norm. And after so much time of not allowing himself to look for love again, he'd eventually forgotten what it even felt like to be emotionally attached to any one girl. And there was always the underlying fact of his life that no one wanted him in that way, either. At least in his own mind.

 

Face hated the fact that Murdock could see right through him at times. BA and Hannibal also had that power, but not as well as Murdock. He could see things that Face himself didn't recognize. Such as Face's lack of real feelings for Audrey, and hers for him. He'd hit the nail right on the head, describing their earlier phone conversation. But Face had kept insisting it was all Murdock's fault, even in the face of truth. The idea suddenly dawned on Face that maybe that was a good part of Murdock's behavior that night. He just didn't know how to take the anger and vindictiveness Face had thrown at him. But then, Murdock was the type who would want to talk things out, not try to strike back. There had to be something more.

 

Sleepiness was beginning to cloud over anymore thoughts of trying to figure Murdock out. After all, Murdock was Murdock. Face yawned and got into a good position for sleeping. He decided to chalk the night up to bad judgment on both their parts, and that maybe he'd try to talk with him about it the next time he saw him.

 

 

Part 5

 

Face was enjoying the dream immensely judging from the upward curve of his mouth. He and the beautiful green-eyed woman were reclining further and further down onto the leather sofa. Their lips were locked in a passionate kiss and his hand was moving up her thigh and under her dress. His fingers had just touched silk when a phone started ringing.

 

The phone rang again and without a word, the nameless woman slid out from under him and went to another room presumably to answer it. She never came back and the phone kept ringing.

 

Reality snagged Face back from his sleep when he realized it was his own phone ringing. He groaned at having lost the dream, then again knowing the phone was on the nightstand way over on the other side of the king-size bed. He had to untangle himself from the sheet and blanket before he could drag himself to the other side. "H'lo!" he said out of breath into the phone.

 

"You're really slacking, Lieutenant," he heard Hannibal's voice admonish. "You used to wake up at the slightest noise. Maybe you need some reconditioning...."

 

Face looked at the clock. 7:45 a.m. He let his head drop back onto the pillow and covered his eyes with his hand. Not in the mood for lectures at this early hour, he interrupted. "You know, Hannibal, you have the lousiest sense of timing. I was having the most wonderful dream...."

 

"Here's a quarter. Call someone who cares," the Colonel's tone was getting harder. "Look, Lieutenant, we have a slight situation over here that requires your presence. Get over to my place ASAP. Oh, and bring doughnuts. Plenty of them. Cause BA's here, too."

 

"Do we have a new job?"

 

"No, I just want an explanation," Hannibal said sharply. "You better hurry....BA's stomach's growling."

 

The phone clicked dead, so Face put his down. "An explanation to what?" he said to himself. "What did I do now?" Knowing an angry Hannibal and a hungry BA were not forces to be kept waiting, Face quickly shaved and dressed.

 

On his way to Hannibal's, Face picked up two dozen various kinds of doughnuts and muffins, and figured adding a gallon of milk would appease the big guy. Appeasing Hannibal was a different story, considering he had no idea what he wanted an explanation for. He had no current scams going that could go wrong, the Team's finances were in order, so that couldn't be it. By the time he got to Hannibal's, Face had worried himself into a tizzy, ready to defend whatever accusations the Colonel would throw at him.

 

BA opened the door before Face had a chance to ring the bell. BA grimaced and growled loudly at him as he walked by. Face stopped, turned back around and said, "You know, BA, you're such a breath of fresh air in the morning."

 

BA grabbed the large box from Face. He scowled again and said, "You better watch your mouth, or I'll twist you into a pretzel!"

 

Face's eyes opened wide and he stepped back a step at the threat. He held up the gallon of milk at arm's length. "I got you some milk to go with the doughnuts," he offered very sweetly. "Whole milk, ice cold, just the way you like it."

 

BA grabbed the milk from his fingers. "After what you pulled, I just might turn you into a pretzel anyway!" was the only thanks Face got. BA pushed past him and sat the box and milk down on the coffee table. He dropped down onto the sofa next to Hannibal who was twirling a cigar in his fingers and looking at Face with a mixture of anger and disappointment in his eyes.

 

Face didn't like that look, it could only mean trouble. And why would BA want to twist him out of shape? He lifted up his hands in question, "Okay, I give. What did I do?"

 

That's when Murdock came into the room from the kitchen, carrying two cups of coffee. He handed one to Hannibal, then took a seat in the rocker/recliner, folding one leg up underneath him. The look he gave Face was tentative. Face read it as apologetic....guilty....like he didn't want to be there at all.

 

"What are you doing here this early?" Face asked, curiously. It was usually him that picked Murdock up. BA sure wouldn't have done it if Face was available to.

 

"He spent the night here, Lieutenant." Hannibal spoke up for Murdock. "He had to call somebody since you left him stranded at that airfield last night!"

 

"Stranded?" Face asked, finally realizing what all this was about. "I didn't leave him stranded. I gave him bus fare."

 

"That was mighty generous of you," BA snarled, throwing a muffin at Face. "And I don't like bran muffins!"

 

The muffin broke apart as it hit Face solidly in the chest. "I got that one for me!" he muttered irritably, having had enough food thrown at him the night before.

 

"Face, just where did you expect Murdock to go?" Hannibal asked sarcastically. "The VA was already locked up for the night. He wouldn't have been able to get in."

 

"Yeah, 'specially since they welded that grate over his window, so he can't get in and out that way anymore," BA added. "I need to do somethin' 'bout that."

 

Face closed his eyes and scrunched up his features as he realized the mistake he'd made. 'Murdock must have expected to spend the night at my apartment,'  he thought, miserably. 'Shit! I'm an idiot!'  He remembered the anger he'd been in the night before and how he only wanted to get away from Murdock.

 

"Oh, uh, sorry, Murdock. Guess I didn't realize what time it was."

 

Murdock had been sitting there, staring down into his coffee cup, alternately rocking and swiveling the chair back and forth. "S'okay, Facey. I understand."

 

"No, it's not okay!" Hannibal reprimanded loudly. "Dammit, Lieutenant! In case you've forgotten we have to be on constant guard. Being a part of this team means we have to take care of each other. And leaving Murdock there like that was just plain stupid and careless."

 

"I know. I said I was sorry." Face told him, not particularly liking the lambasting he was getting but knowing Hannibal was right. "I was a little upset last night and thought he'd be okay getting back to the VA on the bus. I just didn't pay attention to the time."

 

"Just what the hell did happen last night? Murdock wouldn't tell us anything."

 

"And I didn't like bein' drug out of bed that late. I need my sleep!" BA added in his usual harsh voice.

 

"Well, I didn't know you were staying here," Murdock spoke up. "We got into an argument." He looked over into the doughnut box. "BA, could I have that chocolate glazed with the sprinkles on it?" BA slapped the doughnut into Murdock's outstretched hand. "Face kinda got put in his place by a female and didn't take it too well."

 

"Thanks to you and that stupid story you made up!" Face pointed out. Murdock just nodded his head in agreement and bit into the doughnut.

 

"What story?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Oh, you should have it seen it," Face said quickly, letting himself get agitated all over again. "I'm sitting there with this girl–Tammy's her name–getting to know her....making plans. Then here he comes telling me I should be home with my pregnant wife and taking care of our kids! Well, Tammy starts yelling and throwing food and things at me, then she squirts me with ketchup and mustard and walks off!"

 

BA giggled at the thought of what had been done to Face and thought it about time one didn't fall under his spell. Hannibal smirked but didn't laugh at Face's expense, but it was a struggle not to. "Why did you do that, Murdock?"

 

Murdock started to say something, but Face cut him off. "Oh, that was just the topper for the whole evening. I didn't even want to go. I had other plans, but he tricked me into going. And then he goes and acts like a spoiled little kid because he wasn't getting his way about everything. He actually snatched a stuffed monkey I'd won away as I was about to hand it to a little boy. He yelled at the poor kid scaring him half to death."

 

"You did WHAT!?" BA shouted, standing up. He was thankful he had already swallowed or else he'd have choked. Nothing made him more angry than to see or hear of a child being hurt in any way. "Why'd you go and do that for, you crazy fool? I'm gonna–"

 

"Down BA!" Hannibal warned him. "You're not going to do anything."

 

If it had been anyone else, BA would have continued his threat and carried it out. But he always listened to Hannibal, if reluctantly at times. He growled menacingly at the pilot and sat back down.

 

"Okay, Murdock," Hannibal sighed, feeling like an arbitrator. "What's your side in all this?"

 

Murdock had curled up in the chair, looking anguished. Obviously embarrassed and regretting at least the childish part of his actions the night before. "I don't know why I acted up like that, Colonel. It's just that Face was so mad at me for messing up his date with Audrey–"

 

"Audrey was my original plan for the evening," Face interrupted, not wanting Hannibal to miss that tiny detail.

 

"Shut up and let him finish, Lieutenant! And pick that muffin up off the floor."

 

Face looked peeved, but kept his mouth shut as he knelt down to pick up the pieces of bran muffin.

 

"Like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted," Murdock continued, glaring at Face's back as he made his way to the kitchen wastebasket. "He was already mad at me and being real pissy about it. Then he starts giving away all the stuff he'd won, when he knew I'd want them." Murdock looked anguished again. "I guess I just sort of lost it. This jealous, bratty little kid in me came out before I could stop him. I reacted way out of line, and I'm sorry."

 

Face had come back in time to hear the last part and see Murdock's remorse. He'd found the monkey sitting on a kitchen chair and brought it back with him. He handed it to Murdock. "Here's your monkey. He looked lonely."

 

"His name's Möbius." Murdock tried brushing away some of the dirt from the monkey's shirt.

 

"Möbius?" Face asked. The only Möbius he could think of was the Möbius strip used in geometry. He shook his head. 'Nah, couldn't be.'

 

"You had to have that dirty, ratty-lookin' thing bad enough to want to grab it from a kid?" BA asked.

 

"Well, he was clean till Face knocked me down."

 

"Face knocked you down?" Hannibal asked slowly.

 

"Yeah, right after the Tammy incident. We was back up again though, before the security guards got there."

 

"Security guards?!" Hannibal's voice raised a few octaves.

 

Face really wished Murdock would have left that part out. "It was nothing, Hannibal. Really. They didn't recognize me. They just asked us what was going on, then told us to leave. So we did.....well, I did anyway."

 

Hannibal sighed loudly, giving them both stern stares. He lit the cigar he'd been holding and blew out a long plume of smoke before speaking. "Sounds to me like you were both acting like a couple of kids."

 

"Well, it never would have happened if he hadn't made up that story to get rid of Tammy." Face argued. "Which reminds me, Murdock.....you never did answer my question."

 

"I don't remember any question." Murdock said quickly, not wanting to pursue that again.

 

"The one about you caring about what I do with my life. Since when did you appoint yourself my moral conscience?"

 

"Maybe someone should be your moral conscience," Murdock said simply, feeling a bit defensive now. His voice sped up as he continued. "Maybe you need someone to do that for you with the way you run around like a gigolo!"

 

"A what?!" Face sputtered. He heard BA choke on his latest doughnut and saw Hannibal start slapping his back. Looking back at Murdock he said, "Just because I have a normal, healthy sexual appetite, and just because I'm given an occasional gift does not make me a gigolo!"

 

"Normal, healthy appetite? Geez, Face! How about more like hyperactive, oversensitive, obsessive, excessive, all-consuming!" Murdock's arms opened wide at the last phrase.

 

"At least I'm not a eunuch! You're like an eight year old stuck in a man's body. It wouldn't surprise me if you're still a virgin!" Face shot back at him.

 

BA was coughing uncontrollably now. He grabbed the milk container and drank huge gulps directly from it. This conversation was getting way too sensitive for him.

 

"I AM NOT!" Murdock sprang out of the chair. "I'm just a whole lot more picky than you!"

 

"Oh when was the last time you looked at a woman and saw her as a woman!" Face moved closer to Murdock. "You look at a beautiful woman and only see–"

 

Murdock also moved closer so there were only inches between them as he loudly finished, "–someone who should be respected and treated as a human being and not just a sexual object!"

 

"I have respect for women!" Face yelled at him.

 

"THAT IS ENOUGH!" Hannibal shouted over them both. He rose up from the sofa and stared incredulously at them. He clenched his cigar between his teeth, clasped his hands behind his back and moved over towards them. The room had been incredibly silent for the moment. "This kind of behavior between the two of you will not be tolerated," he said in a quiet, but very authoritative tone. "Murdock, sit back down." Murdock dropped back into his chair without a second's hesitation.

 

"Face, go sit next to BA." Face didn't move, but stared back at him defiantly. He didn't like to be spoken to like a child and wanted the Colonel to know it. This reminded Hannibal very much of the young, stubborn, rebellious kid Face had been when they'd first met. Well, he would use the same tactic now as he did back then to make him comply. "Don't fuck with me, kid. I can make your life one miserable day after another." He stared coldly at the Lieutenant, not blinking once.

 

It didn't take long for Face to back down. He knew from experience the Colonel would do exactly what he said he could. "Yeah, I remember," he said with the slightest hint of sarcasm before moving to sit next to the big guy, who seemed to have recovered. He gave Face a look that said "You dumb idiot fool."

 

Hannibal removed the cigar from his mouth and began pacing the floor. "Now I don't know what the hell has gotten into you two. But I will not have any members of my Team at each other's throats. Now what is it going to take to end all this?" He looked between the two. "Face?"

 

The Lieutenant cleared his throat and looked lazily at Murdock. "I just want to know why he's suddenly judging my sex life."

 

Murdock didn't say anything. He just sat curled up in the chair, looking down at the floor. Everything had gotten so out of control. All the fighting had left him miserable and exhausted. He wished he could just dig a hole and hide himself. He thought he should be able to hate Face after all the arguing and insinuations, but he couldn't. He still felt so attracted to that beautiful man and wished to God he could let him know it. But he had to hold it back. He had to keep the friendship.

 

"Murdock?" Hannibal asked.

 

He straightened himself up and tried to look as honest as he could, even though he felt shriveled up inside. "You're right, Face. I have no right interfering. How you live your life is none of my business. I'm sorry, it'll never happen again. And I apologize for everything that happened last night."

 

Hannibal nodded, satisfied with his response. "Face? Do you have something to say to Murdock?"

 

Face was studying the pilot curiously. 'Yeah. You're still holding something back. I can see it in your eyes.' He felt a rough elbow jab his ribs. "Ouch!" He glared at BA and rubbed his side.

 

"Whatchu waitin' for?" BA whispered harshly.

 

"I was just thinking." Face actually did feel bad for all the fighting and knew the things he'd said to Murdock about his lack of a sex life was just said out of anger. He honestly did want to clear the air so they could get their friendship back on track.

 

"Um, I'm sorry, too. For all the things I said and did last night and for all the nasty, untrue things I said today. You were right about a couple of things last night. I guess there wasn't as much there with Audrey as I'd thought and you were right about me playing with people. I shouldn't have been so antagonistic, then maybe you wouldn't have reacted the way you did."

 

Murdock was actually touched that Face would point those things out. It wasn't often he was that open and honest. He smiled at him. "Thanks, Facey. We friends again?"

 

"Yeah," Face grinned warmly back. "And the next time there's a carnival, I'll win you all the damned stuffed animals you want."

 

That put a sparkle in Murdock's brown eyes. He picked Möbius back up and studied him. This was another mistake he could fix. "BA, I'll clean Möbius up and you can have him for the children's center. I just don't feel right about keeping him after the way I got him."

 

"Thanks, Murdock," BA smiled. "The kids will sure like him."

 

Hannibal clapped his hands together loudly. "Well, I'd say this team meeting is adjourned successfully." He stuck his cigar between his teeth and grinned. "I love it when a plan comes together."

 

The other three groaned at the overused line. Face was glad the tense meeting was over. He wanted to formulate his own plan to get Murdock alone and find out once and for all what he was hiding.

 

 

Part 6

 

A short time later Face and Murdock were driving towards Westwood and back to the VA hospital. Both felt much more at ease with each other since they'd worked things out at Hannibal's. Murdock was staring at the passing scenery and tapping his fingers on the door and bobbing his head to the rock song coming from the stereo. He kept his feet firmly planted on the floor, since Face had slapped them off the dashboard a moment earlier.

 

Face glanced over at him and was glad to see Murdock looking so relaxed. A relaxed and content Murdock meant he would be open to idle chatter or manipulated into deeper, more personal discussions.... something the sneaky pilot had done to him many times over the years. Face suddenly felt the impulse not to put off getting Murdock to tell him what had been on his mind lately. He turned the volume down on the radio a bit.

 

"Hey, Murdock? Are you in any hurry to get back to the VA? I was just thinking it might be nice to spend some time together today."

 

Murdock stopped his tapping and bobbing and looked over to Face to agree immediately to the new plan. His voice stuck in his throat momentarily as he saw the sun kissing through Face's wind-blown honey-brown hair and eyelashes, making his whole face glow like....like....Helios. He blinked, getting himself back under control. He grinned, hoping his lapse would go unnoticed, and mentally warned himself to keep his screws tightened. "That'd be great, old buddy, old pal, old friend. Whatcha got in mind?"

 

But Face had noticed the pause and stare and it concerned him. His brow furrowed. "Are you sure? You don't need your meds or anything, do you?"

 

"Nope. Got them right here." He shook his jacket pocket, hearing the pills rattling in their bottle. "And I don't think they're gonna miss me too much at the hospital. It's not like I've never pulled a disappearing act before."

 

"Don't I know it," Face said amused. He rounded the next corner, taking them away from the VA and towards his uptown apartment. "We've pulled some pretty good scams together to break you out of there, haven't we?" He smiled thoughtfully and slapped Murdock on the shoulder. "Even if you are perfectly capable of getting yourself out alot of the time, it's still fun to pull one over on the staff."

 

His shoulder tingled where Face had touched it. "Faceman, you are the king of sting. Watchin' you work your smooth moves, I can't help but want to play along. We deserve an Academy Award for the tuberculosis one." Murdock chuckled and then gave a hacking cough like he had done during the scam. He still felt the tingle in his shoulder. He was doing his best to cover up these feelings he was having. For years he could do it without much effort, but lately it was getting harder and harder.

 

It was getting more and more difficult to be separated from Face for any length of time. The more he tried not to think of Face, the more he did think of him. Seeing his face, hearing his voice, feeling any kind of touch from him was stirring emotions in Murdock that were going from slightly less-than-innocent to downright lustful. Face was even invading his dreams more often. How many times in the past few weeks had he woken up with a shamefully huge hard-on or worse yet, embarrassingly sticky jammies.

 

He briefly wondered if anyone had written a book entitled "How to Tell Your Best Friend You Love Him", or "How to Convert a Hetero to a Homo in Ten Easy Steps". Reading about it would be easy.... implementing, on the other hand, still wouldn't. He had his friendship with Face to consider and didn't want to lose that. Had to keep it covered....keep the lid on as it simmers. 'Too bad life can't be as simple as Hamburger Helper,'  Murdock thought idly.

 

===========

 

Murdock hopped out of the Vette as soon as Face pulled into a spot in the parking garage. He was determined to act as natural as possible, to be himself. He pretended the yellow line painted on the garage floor that led to the elevator was a tight rope. With his arms outstretched for balance, he precariously stepped one foot in front of the other, never letting his rubber soles miss the yellow line.

 

Face chuckled when Murdock hopped off the end and into the open elevator, bowing to his invisible audience. "I'm impressed. You did that without a net."

 

"I don't work with Annette anymore, Facey. She ran off with the lion tamer," Murdock informed him indifferently, then pressed every even-numbered floor on the panel board.

 

Face groaned and shook his head at the bad joke. He hoped the rest of the day wouldn't go like this, as he crossed his arms, leaned back against the wall and watched the numbers above the door move up very slowly.

 

===========

 

"Hah! I got it for sure this time," Murdock announced confidently. "Colonel Mustard did it, in the library, with the lead pipe." He flicked his list of suspects, weapons and locations triumphantly.

 

Face scanned his own list. Really unnecessary, of course, since the three Murdock chose were the only choices left. "You did it again, HM," he smiled smoothly, allowing Murdock his glory.

 

The pilot eagerly opened the envelope that sat in the middle of the board and checked them anyway. "Yes. Yes. Yes," he said as he dropped down each card. "Whatcha wanna play next?" he asked a moment later, after they got the Clue game put away in its box. He took the box over to a shelving unit build into the wall of the rec room, which held a couple dozen different games. 'Whoever owns this place Face is scamming sure is into games. Good ones, too,' he thought, grabbing one. "How 'bout Risk? I want to overthrow the world!" he added in a generic evil third-world leader voice.

 

"No way!" Face said with a humph. "That'd be one to play with Hannibal. Not me." Murdock shrugged and put the game back. They'd been playing games for a few hours, breaking for a quick lunch around noon. Face had been craftily trying, without much luck, to get Murdock to talk about anything personal. That in itself confused Face, because Murdock was usually the one who wanted to talk about feelings and emotions, the very things Face tried avoiding talking about. Nope, the pilot's heart seemed to be locked up tight.....no visitors allowed. Face also noticed that Murdock wasn't looking him in the eye very much. In fact, he kept his eyes drawn to anything but Face. This was telling the conman that whatever Murdock's problem was, he was the center of it. Oh, Murdock was being friendly enough.....his usual, congenial, nutty self. But he was guarding himself very carefully.

 

"I'm getting kind of tired of board games anyway," Face said to him, grabbing a banana from the fruit bowl on the counter. He went over to the sofa and sank down into the leather. "The Dodgers are playing the Padres today. Wanna watch?" He used the remote to find the right channel on the TV.

 

'Yeah. Sports,'  Murdock thought. 'Sports is good. Keep Face talking about baseball, maybe he’ll give up talking about me.' Evading Face's questions was quite an exhausting challenge.

 

Murdock took a seat in the matching overstuffed leather chair. On the TV, the Padres first baseman had just hit a double, adding to his number of RBIs for the season. "Dodgers made a mistake losing Garvey," Murdock stated, wanting to get into the game.

 

"I don't know about that," Face responded. "He's doing okay this year with San Diego, but he's past his prime. I don't think he'll be playing much longer." He sprawled out against the corner of the sofa, bringing one bent leg up, settling in comfortably and casually. He peeled down the skin of the banana half way. "Sure, he did great with the Dodgers, but they just had a better team in general back in say '77 and '78 when they made the World Series."

 

"And in '81," Murdock added, glancing up just in time to see Face lick his lips and bring the banana up to them. He watched as Face sunk the tip into his mouth, softly biting into the tip, then quickly reverted his eyes back to the television screen. "H-How far do 'ya think they'll go this year?"

 

"The Dodgers?" Face thought for a moment. "It's possible they could make the playoffs, but I'd put my money on San Diego to go the Series." He smiled, knowing he was usually right about these things and took another bite of his banana.

 

Murdock couldn't help but stare. Face's movements seemed to go in slow motion to him. One small bite, then sinking the banana further into his mouth for another. Then bringing the sweet fruit down to rest on his hip. The hip that was clothed in very snug-fitting, soft faded denim.

 

Murdock began getting uncomfortable. His face flushed slightly and he alternately went to half-watching the game to intently half-watching Face take in the banana. By the time the fruit was finished, Murdock was very warm and the front of his pants very tight. He crossed his legs and leaned forward, hoping to hide his body's betrayal. 'Oh, shit! Don't let him notice, please!' he begged, and ran his hand over his glistening forehead.

 

"Are you too warm, Murdock?" Face asked, noticing his friend wiping his forehead. "You can jack up the AC if you want. Oh, and there's some of your favorite grape pop in the mini-fridge behind the bar. I hid it there so BA wouldn't see it and drink it all."

 

"A soda pop sounds good." Murdock's voice almost squeaked. He waited till Face had turned back towards the TV screen before standing up and quickly turning away.

 

Face put his empty banana peel on a newspaper that sat on the coffee table in front of him. "Could you toss me another banana while you're up?" he asked, not looking away from the game.

 

Murdock's head dropped and his shoulders slumped as he walked towards the fruit bowl. "Another banana!" he muttered to himself. "You can't choose an apple or an orange?" Then the thought of juice slowly dripping down that perfect chin and how much he'd love to lick it off..... 'Stop it!'  he chided himself. 'Stop thinking about him that way.'  He twisted a banana from the bunch in the bowl, then went behind the bar to hide his lower half. "Flying banana en route, Faceguy," he warned before tossing the banana over to Face, who caught it one-handed.

 

"Thanks."

 

"No problemo," Murdock said as he bent down to the mini-fridge and grabbed a bottle of grape pop. He found the bottle opener under the bar and guzzled half the bottle down before taking a breath. He decided to stay hidden behind the bar since he still had a clear view of the TV and the baseball game. But soon enough his eyes were drawn to Face and what he was doing to that damn banana. Murdock swallowed hard, becoming entranced. He lost himself in his fantasy and didn't even realize how hard he was staring. Or the fact that Face was staring back at him.

 

"Um, Murdock. If you want a banana, go ahead and have one." Face said with a raised eyebrow. He got no response, only the stare that seemed to go right through him. Becoming worried, Face put his banana down, got up and went over and stood across from Murdock, the bar separating them. "Murdock? You okay?" He studied the pilot's face. The stare wasn't the kind of insane stare that Face knew from years ago, but more like one of.... he wasn't quite sure.... it kind of reminded him of the way some women stared at him.

 

Barely hanging on by a cognitive thread, Murdock sensed Face moving towards him and heard the question behind the roaring in his ears; but he had become so overwrought by his sexual tension that he couldn't pull his eyes away or get his brain and vocal chords to work together. It took the electric jolt of Face's firm grip on his arm and the sharp, loud "Murdock!" to break the stupor he was in.

 

Murdock blinked, swallowed in a deep breath, and shook his head as if suddenly waking up from a dream. "I-I-I  h-hear you. You don't need to yell."

 

Face sighed, relieved. "Are you all right?"

 

Murdock gently pulled his arm from Face's hand, and plastered on a grin. "Course I'm all right. Just daydreamin' a little, that's all."

 

Face looked at him incredulously. "Daydream, huh? Well, that was some daydream. What was it you were thinking about?"

 

Murdock immediately turned a bright shade of red. "Nothing important," he quickly lied. He took a long swallow from the bottle he was holding, hoping to look casual. It wasn't working. Face was looking at him. Looking at him with those deep blue eyes that he could so easily drown in the depths of. Murdock felt himself falter, and looked away.

 

"No, Murdock!" Face stated firmly. "You're not getting off that easy. Now I know that something's been bothering you for weeks. I know that it involves me and I'm getting tired of trying to get it out of you. What is it? Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me about something?"

 

Murdock breaths became quick and shallow, his face crumbled miserably and he turned around away from Face. "You didn't do anything wrong. I'm not mad at you," he said softly. Face came around the bar, but Murdock turned himself around again to prevent Face from looking at him. He was obviously still in a very aroused state and didn't want Face to see it.

 

"Murdock, please tell me what's wrong?" Face begged to the pilot's back.

 

'Can't tell him. Can't tell him,'  Murdock kept reminding himself. "There's nothing wrong. Really, Face. There's not."

 

"Bullshit!" Face said angrily. He forcibly pulled Murdock around to face him. He grabbed a fistful of T-shirt and pushed Murdock against the bar and leaned into him to prevent him from moving. "You are going to tell me–" Face stopped abruptly the second he noticed it. The hardness pressing against his lower abdomen. He let go of Murdock, stepped back and couldn't help but look down. He looked up again quickly, once his suspicion was confirmed. Murdock squeezed his eyes shut, becoming bright red again.

 

Face turned an interesting shade of pink himself, not knowing what to say. Of course, he would say the wrong thing. "Is that a .357 in your pants, or are you happy to see me?"

 

Face cringed and regretted the words instantly when he saw Murdock looking like he wanted to cry. Murdock turned around, leaned over the bar and gently banged his head against the top of it over and over. "Oh god. I'm sorry, Face." Murdock's voice sounded sadly strangled. "I didn't want you to find out. I don't want to lose you as my best friend. I'm sorry."

 

Face wasn't sure what to do. He bit his lower lip wondering what it was exactly that Murdock was talking about, though the evidence spoke for itself. He thought it best to reassure Murdock first thing that their friendship should never be questioned.

 

"Murdock?" he began. "You're my best friend, and I'm your best friend. You could never do or say anything that will change that. I really mean it. Please tell me what's going on."

 

Murdock quit banging his head on the bar and sighed heavily. "Guess there's no point in trying to hide it anymore," he said quietly. He raised himself up, looked at Face like a whipped puppy, then lowered his eyes to the floor. "I love you, Facey."

 

Face stared at him wide-eyed. "W-What?" he asked automatically, realizing at the same time how much this explained his best friend's behavior.

 

Murdock looked up and took a deep breath. "I said I love you. I love you," he emphasized, getting braver. "And I don't mean like a best friend, or a brother. I'm in love with you. I think maybe I have been for as long as I've known you, but lately the feelings are just getting too hard to control. I've never felt anything like this for anyone before." He snatched a small drink napkin from a stack on the bar and nervously played with it to keep his hands busy. "I get all weak-kneed when I look at you. I've been dreamin' 'bout you practically every night. And while I'm pouring my guts out, I might as well admit that yes I lust after you, too. Watching you eat those bananas was probably the sexiest, most erotic thing I ever saw. Which explains my current condition."

 

There. He'd said it. Said it all. He was breathing deeply. The poor napkin was torn to shreds, and he threw the remnants he still clutched down at his sneakered feet. He waited for Hurricane Templeton to knock him right off those feet. To throw him right out the door and tell him he never wanted to see him again and that their friendship was over. But there was no stormy backlash. Only silence. He looked at Face who was still staring at him wide-eyed and open-mouthed. "Face?" he asked. Face attempted to move his lips, but no sound came out. "Oh great!" Murdock exclaimed angrily at himself. "I shocked you into silence. I'm just doing everything wrong today." He took Face by his arm and guided him back around the bar and to the sofa, sitting him down.

 

Murdock sat down next to Face, but left enough space between them so Face wouldn't feel trapped. "Tell me what you're thinkin', Face. Speak to me."

 

Face was trying to think of something to say to Murdock to keep him assured of their friendship, but his mind was whirling. He saw what was left of the bananas on the coffee table and quickly looked way from them, wishing Murdock hadn't shared that part with him. The only thing he could get to come out of his mouth was what was running through his head at that moment.

 

"Boy, oh boy, oh boy....."

 

 

Part 7

 

Face repeated the mantra in his head then forced himself to try to think logically. He blew out a breath, closed his eyes tight and ran both hands down his face before opening his eyes again. The banana remnants caught his eye again first thing. The thought of Murdock's lustful reaction to his innocently eating his favorite fruit forced his hands into action. He wrapped the newspaper tightly around them, let the twisted ball sit there a few seconds, and decided that wasn't good enough. He grabbed it, got up and quickly disposed of it in the wastebasket behind the bar. 'That's better,'  he thought. 'Out of sight, out of mind.'

 

Looking over at Murdock, he thought he should feel bad for the sudden actions. The pilot looked absolutely miserable, guilt and shame were written all over his features. 'Damn you, Murdock,'  he fought with the frustration in his mind. 'Why'd you have to unload all this on me? Since when are you gay? I thought I knew you. Where the hell did all this come from?'  Figuring they both could use some "comfort", Face pulled a bottle of the Southern variety from behind the bar. He poured himself a good healthy dose into a glass, and a smaller portion for Murdock into another, mindful of the medications he may or may not have taken that day.

 

Face pushed the glass into Murdock's hands, then took his spot on the sofa again. He turned the television off with the remote before taking a long swallow of the burning brown liquid. Knowing he'd been silent too long Face pulled his mettle together, he knew he had to absolve Murdock of any doubts about their friendship, which he was sure his friend was having.

 

Murdock had never felt so embarrassed or ashamed in all his life. He measured Face's disgust with him by how quickly Face had gotten rid of the wadded up evidence of his uncontrollable urges. 'He hates me for sure now,'  Murdock convinced himself. 'He thinks I'm some kind of demented, voyeuristic, obsessive, freak of sexual nature.'

 

He felt the cold class pushed into his hands. Never having been one much for booze since the days when he and Face used to drunkenly stumble out of the bars at whatever base they happened to be stationed at or city of choice for R&R, Murdock swirled the drink around in the glass, then downed it in one gulp welcoming the warming effect hoping to ease the giant knot in his stomach. It actually felt quite good.

 

"Thanks," Murdock said quietly. "I needed that."

 

Face finished his drink off, silently seconding the opinion. "Uh, Murdock. About what you said...."

 

Murdock closed his eyes and waved his hand as if shooing a fly away. "Ah, just forget about that." He glanced at Face and looked away again. "I probably shouldn'ta said anything. But now you know, and I know you ain't interested and never will be. So let's just chalk it up to me lettin' one of my crazy psychoses run amuck and forget I ever said anything." He paused and took a deep breath. "I just hope you ain't too disappointed in me."

 

"Murdock!" a beleaguered Face sighed, taking Murdock's glass from his hands and putting it and his own on the coffee table. "I'm not disappointed in you. A little surprised I have to admit," he nodded in all truthfulness. "But I already told you that there's nothing you could do that would make me want to stop being your best friend. I still mean that. Nothing has changed there."

 

"But, Face, how can you say that knowing what I've been thinkin' about you?" Murdock wished he had his ball cap to wring in his hands, but he'd left it on the table where they were playing games. He settled for the sofa pillow and hugged it against himself. "You should be disgusted with me. I wouldn’t blame you if you kicked me out and never wanted to see me again."

 

"Well, I guess I was somewhat freaked out about the banana, but I'm not going to kick you out over it. So stop thinking that way." Face paused momentarily to think, not quite sure of where to go next. He decided on the question foremost in his mind a few moments ago. "How long...." He swallowed hard and tried again. "How long have you been.... um.... g-gay? I mean, I thought I knew just about everything about you. But this.... this is just totally out of the blue."

 

"I know it is. And I don't know how long," Murdock sighed deeply. "I'm not even sure I can call myself gay, really. I mean, I do find women attractive and I've been with a few. But I also find some men equally attractive." He lowered his head again at his admission. "The only thing I ever done with another guy was whack-off with a buddy of mine in high school. We did that to each other a few times, but that's as far as it got. Nothing more. Since then, I've looked, but never touched." In a much quieter tone, he added, "But I think with the right one, I could go further."

 

Face felt himself blush slightly. "Why me?" He tried not to stutter. "Have I ever done or said anything that, uh, led you to believe that I–"

 

"Not intentionally," Murdock cut him off, then chuckled nervously. "Have you looked in the mirror lately? You don't have to do anything. You're gorgeous, Face. I can't believe you've never been hit on by a guy."

 

"Ah, actually I have a few times," Face admitted reluctantly after a few seconds hesitation. "I usually just brush them off politely."  He saw Murdock nod in downcast understanding. "But I can't brush you off." He then added softly, "I just don't know what you expect me to do. I mean, I've never.... I don't know if I can...." Face couldn't finish and looked away miserably.

 

Seeing the turmoil he was putting Face through, Murdock decided to put an end to the discussion right then. As much as it was hurting him, he had to do it. "I don't expect you to do anything, Facey. It's my problem, not yours. You can't go against your nature and I have to accept that. It may take a little time, but I'll be alright." Murdock rose from the sofa, feeling the need to escape the confines of the apartment. He retrieved his jacket and cap from the table.

 

"Where are you going?" Face looked at him with questioning eyes.

 

The pilot's brown eyes were pleading. "I don't want to talk about it anymore right now." He put on his cap and jacket. Face sighed dolefully and stood up pulling his keys from his pants pocket to drive Murdock home. "Actually, Face, I kinda want to walk back. It's only a few miles and I need the fresh air to clear my head. Well, what's left of it, that is." He tried to smile jokingly and saw the instant worry appear in Face's eyes, but waved it away. "I'll be fine. Don't worry. I'll keep my eyes and ears open, and I should be able to sneak back in without any problem."

 

Face walked with his friend slowly through the apartment to the door. "Murdock...." Face tried again in vain. He didn't feel like much had been resolved.

 

With his hand on the doorknob, Murdock looked back at Face. "You know, I do feel a bit better having gotten it out in the open and talking about some things. I just hope things between us can be like they were before. Do you still feel okay about us being friends?" he asked, needing the reassurance once again.

 

"Of course I do. You're still my best friend, no matter what," Face told him seriously.

 

"Thanks, Facey." Murdock opened the door. "I guess I'll be seein' ya."

 

"Call me when you get there, so I know you made it okay."

 

"Will do," Murdock promised, then closed the door behind him. The walk to the VA did feel good. Along the way he fervently hoped he'd get over his infatuation with Face. He knew he'd bring the subject up in a roundabout way in his session with Richter the next day. Murdock smiled knowing nothing he said to the doc would shock him. The psychiatrist knew the workings of Murdock's mind all too well. Maybe he should have talked with him about it a long time ago.

 

===========

 

Face stood there, staring at the closed door after Murdock left. He'd meant what he'd said about still being friends, but could they really go back to the way it was before? He wasn't too sure. It was as if they'd crossed over a threshold through a one-way door and it would be impossible to go back through. He would always know  how Murdock really felt about him. He would always remember the admission of lust and wonder if it was still there.

 

Face moped around the apartment the rest of the afternoon and evening, trying to keep his mind from dwelling too much on Murdock, but the crazy pilot continued to invade his thoughts. He'd called to let Face know he'd gotten back okay, and that he'd call again in a few of days.

 

After a restless night and his daily check-in with Hannibal, with whom he dared not ask for advice on this particular subject, Face changed his thinking tactics and actually let himself toy with the idea that he should feel flattered that Murdock had chosen him. Not only that he found him desirable, but the fact that Murdock had a heart of pure gold. He was warm, compassionate and generous with his affections, always looking for the good in people. If anyone knew of Face's less-than-desirable attributes, it was HM Murdock. Yet the scamming man knew the pilot must see something good in him. Something, other than his looks, that was worthy of love. Something Face sure wasn't getting much of from anyone else.

 

But to have a sexual relationship, a gay relationship with another man was something Face just couldn't imagine himself doing. He'd admitted to Murdock that he'd been propositioned by men before and at those times briefly wondered what it was about male to male sex that attracted them to it. But Face never went beyond those fleeting momentary thoughts. To him, gay sex was just too weird, and not natural.

 

By that evening, Face was tired of thinking and very restless. He wanted company. A soft, curvaceous body to warm up to. To bring home and help him forget his troubles.... at least for tonight.

 

Being Saturday night, Face knew the available fruit would be his for the picking. He chose to dress casually, deciding to hit one or two of the more laid-back bars close by so he wouldn't need to take his Corvette out. Two blocks away he was about to walk into an Irish pub when a sign from further down the block caught his eye. It held him slightly mesmerized. He knew it was a gay bar, catering to men. Of course, he'd never been in it, but he knew of its reputation.

 

An idea began to form in his mind, making him forget his original reason for going out in the first place. Or, at least, put whatever-her-name-would-be off for an hour or so. He started towards the bar down the block, thinking he would just sit in a quiet corner and observe these people. To try to find out what attraction one male has for another.

 

As soon as he walked in the door, Face bee-lined to the furthest available table and sat with his back to the wall. A moment later, the waiter came for his drink order. Face never even looked at him, just ordered a scotch and laid a twenty dollar bill on the table. After the waiter left, Face shyly lifted his eyes and looked curiously around the bar. It really wasn't a bad looking place, though he didn't know what he was comparing it to. There were maybe 20 other customers besides himself, some paired-off, a couple of groups, and some singles.

 

He felt eyes on him as he tried to appear casually looking around. The waiter brought his drink and made change. Face glanced up at him and said, "Thanks," noticing, as the waiter walked away, he was wearing a very tight pair of white pants and a brown leather vest with no shirt underneath. The white pants made it obvious he was darkly tanned all over.

 

Face took a drink of his scotch and went back to discreetly watching. Most of the men appeared quite ordinary, which he surmised probably shouldn't surprise him. He wouldn't have known they were gay if he passed them on the street. But here they were open with their touching, petting and even kissing. They were acting like any man/woman couple would.

 

"Hey there, Handsome. You all alone?" a strange-sounding voice came from Face's side.

 

Face almost jumped in surprise and turned his head to see a younger man leaning with one hand on the table. His other hand rested on his hip and Face guessed he was trying to look sexy with the way he was gently swaying his young body. Face gulped and looked down at his glass.

 

"Ah, actually, I just came in for a drink and to relax." He looked up at the young man, who he swore was wearing makeup, and added somewhat strongly to get his point across. "And that's all."

 

The young man raised his eyebrows and leaned down closer to Face. His unnaturally red lips pouted and he ran his index finger along Face's as it clutched his glass of scotch. "That's a shame, Sweetie. Cause you sure are one fine figure." The man sighed deeply, and walked back the way he came, swaying his hips very noticeably.

 

Face rolled his eyes and suppressed an urge to laugh. Those were the kind that epitomized fag to him. With their lilted voices and very feminine behavior. He amusedly wondered why the young man just didn't put on a dress and high heels to complete the effect.

 

It wasn't two minutes later that another man approached, trying to make small talk. Face repeated the same thing to this one as the first. The man also took the hint and went off towards someone else. Face was beginning to think being there was a mistake and considered leaving. He finished his drink a few minutes later and was about to get up when another man boldly slid into the seat beside him.

 

"Where do you think you're goin'?" he asked in a slightly slurred voice. He was probably close to Hannibal's age, and from the smell of his breath, he'd already had a few under his too-tight belt.

 

"I was just leaving," Face told him, and tried sliding out the other side.

 

The man grabbed his arm. "Now hold on there a minute! It's still early. Why don't you let me buy you another drink?" He let go of Face's arm and moved his hand down to Face's upper thigh and squeezed. His bloodshot eyes leered with lust. "A nice looking fella like you shouldn’t be going home alone."

 

Face felt his stomach churn. He'd had enough of this idiot already. He grabbed at the hand on his thigh and bent the thumb back as far as it would go without breaking it. The drunken man howled in pain and pulled his hand away when Face released it.

 

"I'm going to tear you apart, you little shit!" the older man threatened, standing up from the table.

 

Before Face could even respond to the threat; another man, whom Face assumed was the owner, was there to get things under control. "It looks like I'm going to have to start limiting the number of drinks you have, Jake. You know the rules around here. If a grope isn't welcomed, then it's hands off! Now why don't you head on home."

 

The drunk glared at Face again before he sauntered out the door. The owner of the bar, as Face had guessed right, introduced himself and said, "I apologize for that, sir. Jake can sometimes get obnoxious when he's had too much. Usually, he's fairly tame."

 

"It's no problem."

 

"Well, I've got a hundred and one things to take care of. I do hope you stop by again."

 

Face just smiled as the owner left him, doubting very much he'd be a repeat customer.  After the loud disruption, most of the customers went back to what they were doing, but a few were looking Face over appreciatively making him uncomfortable. He looked at the entrance, but didn't like the idea of running into Jake and his hands again outside. Wanting to get away from the stares and give Jake enough time to leave the area, Face thought maybe a few minutes in the restroom would provide a temporary solution.

 

When he was almost to the men's room door, a voice stopped him. "I don't think you want to go in there."

 

Face looked quizzically at the man sitting at the end of the bar. "Why not?"

 

He was about the same age as Face and gave him a knowing smile. "Because if you're trying to get away from the guys looking you over and avoiding any more come-ons, then the restroom is not the place to go. I can guarantee that if you go in there, you'll have more attention than you'd probably ever care for."

 

Face thought about this for a few seconds, then chastised himself at his own stupidity. Of course, the tight confines of the restroom would be asking for trouble. Plus, he'd been in enough public male restrooms and had seen a few glory holes in his time, and the vision he had of someone's offering through one made him shudder.

 

The man sitting at the bar chuckled as he watched Face's reaction. "Can I ask you something?" he asked, good naturedly.

 

Figuring he owed him for the restroom warning, Face said, "Sure."

 

"What are you doing here? It's pretty obvious you're as out of place as a fish out of water."

 

Flustered at the pointed question, Face looked down at the guy's shoes. "Uh.... umm...." he shrugged. "Curiosity, I guess," he finally admitted, noting in the back of his mind the guy had nice taste in shoes. And clothes, quickly taking in the rest of him.

 

"Curiosity, huh?" The man rested his elbow on the bar and stared at Face a moment. Face discerned it wasn't a leering stare like the others, but one of casual contemplation.

 

"Curiosity about this lifestyle in general?" the guy asked, gesturing with his hand to encompass the room. "Or curiosity of what male sex would be like?" He took a sip of his drink and added. "I noticed you were people watching."

 

Face reddened with embarrassment and thought, 'Was I that obvious?'

 

Seeing that the handsome blond didn't know quite how to answer his question, the man turned more fully towards Face and said, "I'd be happy to help you with any questions you might have." He couldn't help but notice the look of wariness that had slipped into Face's eyes. "Look, I'm not trying to make a pass at you. I just want to help. If you're curious, I can give you answers." He grinned and said, "Isn't that the whole reason you came in here?"

 

'Yeah, I guess it was,'  Face had to admit to himself. From all outward appearances the man seemed honest enough; and Face felt more comfortable around this guy's friendly casualness than the lewd, more direct approach the three other men had given. Face felt his intuition was usually pretty good and he felt he could trust this guy. And he did need some advice.

 

"All right," he finally found his voice.

 

"Great," the guy smiled warmly and held out his hand. "My name's Brian."

 

Face shook his hand, respecting the firm group and matching it. "My friends call me Tem." Well, at least some of his female friends did.

 

"Why don't we go over to your table and get comfortable," Brian suggested, getting up from his bar seat. "What are you drinking?"

 

"Scotch," Face answered, hoping he was doing the right thing and not about to embarrass the hell out of himself.

 

 

Part 8

 

"Marty!" Brian called, getting the bartender's attention. "Two double McCallan's. Over there," nodding towards the booth.

 

'Hmm, not only good taste in clothes, but liquor too.'  Face thought, appreciatively.

 

"So, Tem, what do you do for a living?" Brian asked as they sat down, trying to get Face into a talking mood.

 

Face sensed that Brian was somewhat intelligent and figured he better stick to a career he actually knew something about. "I'm a procurer."

 

"Oh?" Brian raised an eyebrow. "Do you procure anything in particular?"

 

"Usually rare, hard to find items. People tell me what they're looking for and I find it for them." It was close enough to the truth.

 

Their drinks arrived. "I've got it," Brian said, peeling a bill from underneath a gold money clip attached to the small wad he pulled from his pocket. The waiter gave him change and left.

 

"Thanks. I'll get the next one," Face offered, assuming there would be another round. He knew the scotch would keep him calm, but his inner voice reminded him to be careful about becoming too relaxed.

 

"So, back to your job. It sounds real interesting. I bet it's a challenge, though."

 

'Talk about an understatement!'  Face smiled at a few memories that flashed through his mind. "Yeah, it can be at times. Guess that's why I like it so much." He took a long swallow of the very fine scotch. "What do you do?" He was secretly wishing to get past these preliminaries and get to the matter of why he was here, but didn't want to be rude.

 

"I'm a stock broker. I work at a brokerage firm over in Beverly Hills."

 

Face managed to clamp his jaw shut before it fell open. Brian had the type of job Face had always dreamed himself of having. A nice corporate job in a plush office, handling other people's money. His opinion of the man sitting with him rose a few more notches.

 

For a short time, they discussed the stock market and finance management. Brian was more than a little amazed at Face's knowledge of the subject matter. Face, wanting to play low key, explained that it was just a hobby of his when in reality he could play with the best if given the opportunity. And he knew he could.... if it weren't for the fact that he was a member of the infamous A-Team, a wanted felon and constantly on the run; which definitely limited his employment opportunities.

 

They had finished their drinks and received fresh ones. Face had already begun feeling much more comfortable with Brian and was eager to end the small talk and get down to business. Brian sensed Face was relaxed enough with him now to bring up the subject also.

 

He cleared his throat. "So you wanted to know about this kind of lifestyle. Why exactly?"

 

"Exactly?" Face asked, taking a deep breath and another drink. 'Damn, this stuff is good.'  He thought a few seconds. 'What the hell, tell him the truth.'

 

"A friend of mine....a very good friend....he has been for years....decided to tell me the other day that he was.... um.... in love with me, and that he.... wanted me." Face shook his head, still somewhat surprised by the whole thing. "I never knew, or even suspected he'd been having those kinds of feelings about me. We've always been close, but in a best friend and brotherly sort of way."

 

"What did you say to him after he told you this?" Brian asked.

 

Face smiled sorrowfully. "Well, when the initial shock wore off, I guess I unintentionally made him feel embarrassed and guilty. But then I reassured him that nothing would effect our friendship."

 

Brian's expression showed he was impressed by that. "That's good. Good friends are hard to find. He was probably scared to death to tell you. I take it, though, that you don't return the feelings he has for you."

 

"Well, no. I've never thought of him that way. I love him, but not like that. And he knows that." His face clouded in confusion. "I just don't know what to do about it all. He'll try to hide those feelings, but I know they'll always be there and I know he'll always be hurting because I can't return them." He paused a second, then added. "I'm just not gay." Face finished off the rest of his drink in one gulp. He had already felt the alcohol just beginning to effect him, but ignored his little inner voice and signaled the waiter for a refill anyway. He was finding it easy to open up to Brian and if it was the scotch helping him do that, then so be it. He knew he'd probably wouldn't be so honest otherwise.

 

"Did your friend actually come out and say he was?" Brian wanted to know.

 

Face thought back. "He said he wasn't sure. He said he'd only fooled around a little with one guy back in school and that he still likes women, too." Face shrugged, trying to come to an understanding. "So does that make him bisexual or something?"

 

Brian chuckled and leaned back in the seat. "I'd say that makes him like many of the others in this bar. Myself included."

 

The new drinks came. Brian had hardly drank any of the previous one. Face wrapped his fingers around his glass and looked questioningly at Brian. "What do you mean?"

 

"You can call it bisexual if you want. But that's just another label, like gay or straight. Myself, I like to call it 'universal love'. It sounds better." He smiled at his own phrase. "Some people are attracted only to women, some only to men. And whether you're male or female, it's okay. Then there are those of us who find both sexes equally appealing. You see, Tem...." Brian leaned forward and continued, "I can look at a man and find him to be just as beautiful and desirable as a woman. Men can have beautiful eyes, soft lips," his eyes glanced at Face's head as he said, "and hair that begs to have fingers ran through it."  He sighed, and looked Face in the eye. "I'd say your friend has excellent taste."

 

Face blushed, but didn't feel the discomfort or anger that he would have felt only a short time earlier. He took another swallow of his drink. "But there are a number of differences between a man and a woman's bodies...." Face hedged at his next question.

 

Brian's eyes closed briefly and he smiled. "Yes, that's true.  There's something quite comforting and exhilarating about squeezing and nestling into a pair of soft breasts, or sinking into a female's warm moistness. Even breathing in her natural femininity mixed with a subtle perfume. Hmm, Heaven!"

 

Face's eyes widened at the bluntness of the description. Yet he couldn't deny that that was exactly how he would have described it himself.

 

"And then there's a man's body," Brian continued with a far away look in his eyes. "When a man takes care of his body, it can be a work of art. A firm rippling torso, the roughness of five o'clock shadow on his face, a soft squeezable ass, and a –" He stopped suddenly, dubious about whether or not he should continue in this line. "Well, you get the idea."

 

Face had suddenly looked everywhere but Brian at the mention of a soft squeezable ass. He took a quick drink, only to have it hit the back of his throat at a bad angle, causing him to cough uncontrollably.

 

Brian slid over on the circular booth's seat and slapped Face's back a few times. "You okay there, buddy?" he asked, concerned about the redness of his face.

 

Face took another drink, hoping to ease the horrible itch in his throat. It helped, and the coughing eased up finally. He nodded his head. "Yeah, I'm fine," his voice squeaked. "Sorry about that. It went down the wrong way."

 

"It's okay. I thought you didn't like my description." Brian joked, grinning. He didn't move back to where he had been sitting, but stayed where he was.

 

Face, now recovered from his coughing fit, glanced somewhat timidly at Brian. "Well.... it's just that I've.... never looked at a guy like that. I just wouldn't notice those things."

 

"You should try. Men and women are both beautiful creations. Men may have a couple of different body parts than women, but when it comes to love and sex, both are equally as stimulating and satisfying."

 

Face began to feel warm. He wanted to attribute it to too much scotch, which was definitely going to his head, but knew the topic of conversation was also a large factor. But he knew he wanted, or had to, know more. He wanted to know what Murdock had been feeling all these years. He wanted to know what the attraction was that bring two people of the same sex together. It was embarrassing and confusing the hell out of him, but at the same time he realized he was becoming quite engrossed. Brian was proving to be very helpful, more than he could have hoped for and Face was amazed at his openness about his sexuality. He also had to admire Brian's regards towards people. Face found himself thinking that Brian must be a very considerate lover, who would make his partner feel incredibly special. Face always tried being that to the women he'd been with, no matter how short the relationship. He treated each one with a respect all her own. He liked to make them feel they were the most important woman on the earth when they were with him. After taking in the things Brian was telling him, Face wondered if he could do the same with a man. Or.... could he let a man make him feel the same way a woman could?

 

Brian watched as the thoughts went through Face's mind. He was able to really look at Face without the blond man realizing it. He had been totally serious when he said that Face's friend had excellent taste. The man sitting next to him was gorgeous. And what a good friend he must be to be going to all this effort. Brian wanted to give Face much more than just advice, but sadly sensed that advice was all the handsome man was looking for. But then again, who knows? He noted the troubled, confused look that came across Face's features and assumed he was still not yet accepting that men could be as desirable as women. Brian knew he himself was good-looking. He'd been told enough times and kept himself up well. He decided to try a different approach with Face.

 

"Tem?" Brian interrupted Face's thoughts. "I want you to look at me and tell me what you see."

 

Face looked at him, not quite sure what Brian was getting at. He finally just shrugged and asked, "What should I be seeing?"

 

Brian smirked good naturedly at Face's confusion and decided to rework his question. "Okay, let's try it this way. Pretend I'm a woman, then look at me.... I mean really look at me and tell me what you see. Is there anything about me that you'd find appealing?"

 

"Pretend you're a woman?" Face asked slowly, raising his eyebrows at the strange request.

 

Brian turned fully towards Face and nodded. "Yes. Imagine I have C-cup boobs if you have to. Just tell me what you see and think."

 

Despite himself, Face laughed at the image produced, then became serious and played along. "Okay." He took a deep breath and began looking Brian up and down. It took a moment, but he soon realized what Brian and people like him must see. The closer he observed, the more he really 'took in' what he was seeing. He didn't need to pretend Brian was a woman. The body before him spoke for itself. Brian's hair was a dark brown, wavy, and Face thought if he let it grow out it would probably be curly. His emerald eyes sparkled with energy and were an interesting contrast to his dark lashes and tan skin. His lips were full and framed his perfect teeth nicely. Face already thought Brian had great taste in clothes, but the body underneath was obviously well taken care of. He could see dark curly chest hair beyond the open collar of his shirt and imagined how it spread over strong pectorals. Face's eyes continued downward over the flat stomach until they rested a second too long on Brian's crotch. The sudden sensation that went through his body caused Face to look away. He was confused by his own familiar reaction, which he'd only felt for the female persuasion before. 'What the hell am I doing? I must be drunk. Time to cut myself off.'

 

Brian placed his hand on Face's arm, he felt the arm jerk slightly but it didn't pull away. He smiled and quietly said. "It's okay. You don't have to be embarrassed. You liked what you saw, didn't you?"

 

Face swallowed hard and forced  himself to let go and admit that he did  like what he saw. He felt his ladykiller pride slip a bit at the realization that he'd responded to a man's body the same way he would a woman's. The gentle squeeze on his arm sent a new flood of warmness through his veins. A couple of hours ago it would have revolted him, knowing there was probably lust behind it. But now.... with a new and different understanding.... he kinda liked it.

 

Face realized Brian was waiting for an answer. He looked up into what he considered to be a very handsome face. "Yes." His voice choked, and he cleared his throat. "You look good.... ah.... very good," he amended truthfully.

 

"How so?" Brian's eyes danced in delight. His smile was warm, if mischievous. "If I were female and we were out on a date, how would you compliment the way I looked?"

 

Face almost laughed as he thought of the conceited joy many women got when he fawned over their appearance. As strange as it seemed, he played along, looking deep into Brian's green pools. "I like your eyes. Their color and the way they stand out. And your skin.... you must spend alot of time outdoors. I love being out in the sunshine myself."

 

'This isn't so hard,'  Face thought to himself and continued.

 

"I respect a person who takes care of  their appearance." Face's eyes traveled over Brian again. "You dress well and.... um.... keep yourself in shape." Face felt himself blush as he wondered what Brian might look like underneath his clothes.

 

"I do workout," Brian said, not noticing the blush. "And I spend alot of time outside. I like running, basketball and beach volleyball." It hadn't gotten past him how well Face filled out his clothing. "You look pretty fit yourself. And while we're dishing out compliments...." He slid a little closer to Face, so that their knees were just touching. "Might I add that you have beautiful blue eyes. They remind me of tropical waters. And your hair.... I like the blond highlights. I can envision what it looks like with the sun shining through it. Do you mind?" Brian asked, raising his free hand towards Face's hair. He wanted very much to touch it, to feel if it was as silky as it looked.

 

The feelings going through Face and the nearness of Brian were as intoxicating as the liquor that now sat forgotten. Also forgotten, at least for now, was any anxiety or fear he had when he walked into the bar. The hand that was massaging his arm and the pressure of Brian's leg against his felt too good to be afraid of. He wanted more and would openly welcome it.

 

He laid his own hand on top of the one Brian had on his arm and squeezed. "I don't mind," he said, meaning it.

 

Brian sighed with contentment at Face's touch and the change that seemed to have come over his new friend, or who he hoped he could call a friend.... or maybe even more than a friend. He tentatively touched Face's hair, gently rubbing it between his fingers. "Hmmm.... silky. Just like it looks." He brushed his fingers through the thickness, at the same time taking Face's hand into his and rubbing the back of it with his thumb. Face had closed his eyes. Brian stared at him, taking in every detail of his features, stopping at his lips. He licked his own lips, anticipating what Face's would taste like. Instead of acting on his impulse, he just lowered his hand from Face's hair to his shoulder and squeezed it.

 

"So now do you believe and understand that a man's looks and touches can be just as stimulating as a woman's," Brian asked, smiling as Face opened his eyes, revealing obvious want in them.

 

"Yeah, I think I do," Face admitted with bated breath. "Maybe even more so. I haven't felt this way since...." He breathed deeply and released it. "I don't know when.... maybe my first time with a girl. Maybe it's because it's new, or...." he looked into Brian's eyes shyly and his voice lowered. "Or maybe it's you."

 

Brian practically beamed. "You know, I was hoping for that. I know you just wanted some advice, but I couldn't help but become attracted to you. You have a quality about you that just.... draws me to you." He brushed his fingers along Face's cheek. "You're so sexy. I'm glad you feel the same for me."

 

That thought struck a chord in Face. He'd come here to help him deal with his situation with Murdock. Shouldn't he be thinking of him? Should he really be letting someone else touch him? But then he wondered if he wanted Murdock this way. Could he become physically attracted to or be able to possibly make love to someone he'd known only as best friend for so long? Would it be too awkward? And he thought himself so inexperienced about all this. What if he did something wrong, or found in the middle of things, that he couldn't go on. Murdock would certainly blame himself and be hurt even more.

 

But Face now found himself so incredibly attracted to Brian. Which was bizarre in itself, because before a short time ago, he didn't think it possible to be this attracted to a man. But he was and he wanted more.... of Brian. His conscience was making him feel a little guilty, but his selfish side was saying it was okay to want Brian. Maybe he could test the waters with him more, to see if he would even like being completely intimate with another man. Then he would know whether or not he could do it with Murdock. And, he reasoned, it's not as if he'd ever been monogamous with anyone.... Not since Leslie. Murdock certainly knew that. So Murdock wouldn't expect sudden monogamy with him.... would he? But then Murdock wasn't really expecting anything from him. He'd said so himself. With this string of reasoning in mind, Face decided to let himself go ahead and act on his feelings for Brian. He brought his attention back to the man next to him.

 

"What were you just thinking, Tem?" Brian asked him. He'd noticed Face had gone deep into thought after he'd admitted his feelings to him. It worried him to see the thoughts flickering across those handsome features. He was afraid he'd said the wrong thing.

 

"You really want to know?" Face asked, wanting to be honest. Brian nodded. "I was thinking about Murdock.... the friend I was telling you about.... and whether or not I should be letting myself do this. I was debating with my conscience and let my selfish side win. Murdock's not really expecting anything from me. If he knew I was here, he'd probably keel over." Face chuckled at that, then became serious again. "Part of me is doing this for him, because I want to be for him what he wants me to be. But the other part.... well, most of me.... is thinking of the here and now and who I'm with." He looked into Brian's eyes. "You've woken things up in me I didn't know were there. And I'm very glad you did." Face used his free hand and sheepishly ran his index finger down the arm and fingers that were holding his other hand. "I am attracted to you. And I happen to think you're pretty damn sexy yourself." He laughed nervously at the irony. "Never thought I'd hear myself saying that to a man!"

 

Brian's sigh was a mixture of contentment and relief. "You don't know how happy it makes me to hear it. I'm glad I could bring those feelings out in you. And I appreciate how up front you're being and how truthful you're being about your friend. It lets me know what to expect." Brian ran his hand from Face's shoulder to his neck and rubbed the back of it gently. He also took the hand he was holding and brought it to his chest. Sliding even closer to Face, leaving no space between them, he said, "I'd like to show you a few more things that would enlighten you even further."

 

"Such as?" Face scarcely breathed, knowing full well what was coming.

 

"This for one thing," Brian whispered, closing his eyes and bringing his head closer.

 

Face met him halfway, timidly bringing his lips to Brian's. They gently kissed for what seemed longer than the few actual seconds, then Brian added strength to it by sliding his hand up into Face's hair and pressing him closer yet. Face moaned and opened his mouth, using his tongue to gain entrance to Brian's, who welcomed it with equal ardor. He noticed Brian's lips were soft and it was very similar to kissing a woman; except for the bristly feel of facial stubble, which Face was finding to be quite a turn-on.

 

When they finally broke the kiss, both were breathless. Face's groin was pulsating and he closed his eyes tightly, trying to calm himself. His first kiss with a man had excited him more than he thought possible. He felt Brian playing with his hair and opened his eyes to see the other man grinning at him.

 

"So what do you think?"

 

The smile he gave Brian could have melted half the hearts in the room. "I think I want some more of that," Face answered. "And you did say there were a few things that would enlighten me."

 

"Yes, I did," Brian said seductively, bringing Face's fingers to his lips and kissing each one. "I think we should continue this someplace else."

 

With his heart hammering, Face said, "I think that would be nice."

 

Since sitting down at the booth with Brian, Face had hardly taken notice of anyone else in the bar. Quite a few of those other patrons watched in envy as the pair walked out the door. The young man sitting at the bar, who was the first to approach Face that evening sighed dejectedly and said to no one in particular, "The two most gorgeous men in this place and they leave together. Life is just sooo not fair!"

 

 

Part 9

***Warning: This part may be considered NC-17.

 

Outside the door Face and Brian stood on the sidewalk, not sure of which direction to take. "Well, as the old saying goes...." Brian asked with a whimsical look, "Your place or mine?"

 

Face thought a moment and decided he would feel more comfortable in his own familiar apartment. "How about mine, it's not far from here."

 

"Great," Brian gestured forward with his hand. "Lead the way."

 

In between the small talk they made while walking, Face was sobering up very quickly in the cool night air. The scotch he'd consumed was only part of it. He was also coming down from the carnal high he'd felt in the bar. Not so much that he was ready to turn tail and run away as fast as  he could, but nervous anxiety was replacing the sensuality from only moments ago. Face wasn't a prude when it came to public displays of affection. He was never embarrassed to snuggle up close to his girlfriends and nibble away at their necks or lips no matter where they were. But he felt somewhat embarrassed now as he thought about what he and Brian must have looked like to others in that bar. He knew it was only because Brian was a male and the place was all male, and told himself to just get over it. But be that as it may, he was glad that Brian kept his hands to himself as they walked towards his apartment building.

 

"Nice building," Brian noted appreciatively as they turned into the entranceway of  Commodore Terrace Apartments.

 

"Thanks," Face gave a brief smile. He didn't bother telling Brian it was only a temporary shelter that actually belonged to someone else.

 

Once in the elevator, thankfully alone, Face's anxiety increased two-fold. After pushing the button for his floor, he tightly folded his arms over his chest and rocked on his heels. What they were about to do was sinking in deeply and he wondered just how far things would go. He glanced at Brian, wondering if he was nervous, but he appeared outwardly calm. Brian smiled and put his arm around Face's shoulders and pulled him closer.

 

"Nervous?" he asked.

 

"Yeah, I guess," Face admitted, then cocked his head and added, "You're not the type I usually bring home."

 

"No kidding?" Brian exaggerated surprise, then squeezed Face's shoulders. "Relax. I know you enjoyed what we were doing back there. I just want to make you feel more comfortable about everything.... about being with another man." He tilted Face's chin up and kissed him lightly. "I promise.... you won't regret it," he asserted.

 

Face stared at the mouth that had just kissed him, wondering what the promise held. It excited and scared him at the same time. He felt Brian remove his arm from around him and realized the elevator doors were opening.

 

"It's, uh, d-d-down this way," Face stuttered, heading down the burgundy-colored carpeted hallway. He fumbled with the lock, and admonished himself when the door finally opened. 'Real smooth, Templeton. You're being about as charming as a Three Stooges skit!'

 

At least he remembered his manners as they made it to the living room. "Have a seat," he gestured towards the sofa. "Can I get you a drink? Are you hungry?"

 

'Hungry, yeah. But not for food.'  Brian thought as he surveyed the room. "Got any fruit juice?" he compromised.

 

"Sure. Make yourself comfortable. I'll be right back," Face backed away slowly, then turned and practically dashed to the kitchen.

 

When he returned just a few moments later, balancing two glasses of juice and a bowl of mixed nuts, he immediately noticed the changes Brian had made. The lighting had been subdued and he had lit the gas fireplace, obviously setting the atmosphere just right. It's just what Face would have done for a normal date, and he felt it seemed appropriate. "Nice," he said, glancing around, then set the load on the coffee table. He sat down and handed Brian one of the glasses.

 

"Nice apartment you got here," Brian said, taking a drink. "It's kinda similar to my place." They spent a short while talking about what they liked in places to live, choices in décor, and how real estate was a good investment. During their talk, Brian rested his hand on Face's knee, then eventually let it run up the front his thigh and back down on the inside, coming precariously close to the target, but not quite. The stimulating effect wasn't lost on Face. He knew Brian was getting him comfortable about being touched by him.... and boy, was it working! Face's leg seemed to have a mind of its own and lifted itself up onto the sofa, bending at the knee, to provide better access for Brian's hand. Once again, his primal urges were taking over his anxieties, and the sensation made him bolder.

 

Face placed his own hand on Brian's leg and studied his classic masculine features. Any conversation concerning living spaces now forgotten as Brian took Face's hand and put it to his cheek. Face breathed and let his fingers caress the skin. "You remind me of Greek statues I've seen in museums."

 

"I'm half Greek from my father's side. With a traditional Greek family name of Kellamis."

 

"Nice name," Face felt some of his 'Faceman' charm come through as his eyes raked over Brian. "Umm.... nice everything," he commented in self-conscious seductiveness.

 

Brian smiled suggestively and leaned in closer. "But you haven't seen everything yet."

 

'This is it,'  Face thought. 'Pull out now.... or go for it?'  His pulse quickened, he inhaled deeply. He made his choice....pulling out ran a distant second. His blue eyes blazed with want. "Then show me."

 

"My pleasure," Brian's deep voice got out before pulling Face to him and covering the blond man's lips with his own.

 

Their arms wrapped around each other. They fought for breath as their kissing intensified, their tongues entwining with hunger. Brian wanted this as much as Face. It had been so long since he'd been this attracted to someone. Too long since he'd actually been with anyone. He barely knew this bombshell he was holding, but felt drawn to him like a strong magnet. His mouth went from Face's lips, across his cheek to his earlobe, sucking it in. Then moved down the square jaw line to Face's throat where he gently nipped and sucked on the skin above the pulsing jugular. Brian wanted to latch on and leave his mark, but restrained himself and moved over to the Adam's apple. He felt it vibrate against his lips as Face moaned his pleasure. He then ran his tongue in a straight line back up to those soft lips.

 

Face was losing himself in the heat coursing through his body. He could hardly believe he was reacting so strongly to the physical attentions of someone from his own sex. He thought Brian had been so right when he said a man's body could feel as good as a woman's. Face let his mind drift to Murdock and wondered if kissing him would be like this or something unique in its own right. He didn't ponder too long on the thought, because he felt Brian's hands on his shirt front undoing the buttons.

 

Brian pulled Face's shirt out of his pants to get the last button undone and pulled the shirt open wide, exposing the firm lightly-haired torso. Face broke out in goose bumps when Brian ran his hands up his sides and massaged his nipples with firm thumbs. Moaning again, Face broke their kissing, and his own hands tugged on Brian's shirt, pulling it over his head and laying it on the back of the sofa. He watched his hand as it glided over the chest of short, curly, dark hairs. It spread over most of Brian's chest. Not too thick, nor too thin.... perfect for running his fingers through. He rolled a nipple between his thumb and index finger, pulled gently and knew it would stay erect. Acting on impulse, Face bent down and took the other nipple between his lips. He sucked and licked roughly, then gently pulled at it with his teeth. He'd had this done to him many times by girlfriends and knew how hot it could get him. It obviously had the same effect on Brian judging from his guttural-sounding moans.

 

Face moved to the other side and gave it the same treatment. Brian's eyes were closed and his face showed a mixture of pleasure and pain. "Ohhh, damn that's good, Tem!" he gasped. "Come here!" Brian half-laid against the back of the sofa and pulled on Face's arms, guiding him to straddle his lap. Face settled himself with his knees on either side of Brian's thighs. His eyes widened in surprise when Brian put his hands on Face's butt and pulled him forward, pressing both their hardness's together. Brian kneaded the still-clothed cheeks, grinding Face against him. Face could only lean against the man beneath him, giving Brian the right angle to give Face's nipples a workout like they'd never had before.

 

This was the first time Face had ever felt another man's body so intimately against his own. Even with the fabric of pants separating them there was no way of mistaking the desire that was so massively evident. Between Brian's mouth and teeth on his sensitive nipples and their rocking pelvises, Face was approaching sensory overload. His moans and gasps of sweet pain became a warning of impending combustion. "Brian," he panted, "I'm gonna explode soon."

 

Brian's right hand found its way into the back of Face's pants, the middle finger massaging the top of the crevice. He pulled his mouth away from the nub he was so pleasantly torturing. "You ain't the only one," he breathed heavily. "But we can't have that just yet. We haven't seen all of each other yet " His left hand moved to touch Face's cheek. "I'd really like to see all of you. You're beautiful."

 

Face backed away a few inches so he could see Brian's eyes. He expected to see pure adulterated lust. But he didn't.... at least not totally. Brian's voice and eyes showed something more.... more serious.... somewhat startling Face. He saw lust, but he also saw genuine affection. And desperateness? Desperate need for Face to acknowledge and return that affection?

 

Face's mind and heart battled in confusion. His head was telling him they were going too far. This wasn't supposed to get serious. It was just supposed to be a quick make out session to get him used to the idea of "universal love" as Brian had called it. He was only supposed to get comfortable with the idea of being with a man so he could see if love with Murdock would be possible for him. He hadn't even expected to get as physical as they had.... it was just happening. And he'd hardly even thought of Murdock.

 

However, his heart was being swept away by this dark stranger. Not really a stranger anymore. Not only because of the sex either. From what talking with each other they had done, Face found he had alot in common with Brian. He enjoyed talking with him and wanted to know more about him. Much more. Then there was the sexual part of it. Face had never felt so sexually attracted to anyone like he was with Brian. The man was turning Face's libido inside out. The finger he felt massaging his cleft was only intensifying his desire.

 

Once again, Face let his heart win out. He wanted Brian as much as Brian wanted him. He would battle with his conscience tomorrow.

 

These thoughts ran their way through Face's mind in only a few seconds time. He leaned forward again and gave Brian a long gentle kiss. "We'd be more comfortable in the bedroom," he said invitingly.

 

===========

 

Standing beside the bed with the bedside lamp illuminating their every movement and casting shadows against the wall, the two men slowly and methodically removed what was left of each other's clothing. Warm hands and passionate eyes grazed over shoulders, chests, stomachs, sides and backs. Then down to hips and around to fleshy cheeks and thighs. Exploring, touching, learning each other's bodies. The standing muscles between them wouldn't be ignored any longer. Looking into each other's eyes, seeing the need, they brought their lips together and each reached a hand out to grasp the other.

 

It felt like an electric jolt went through Face when Brian took him into his hand and gently stroked him. He felt himself jump like a teenage boy touched for the first time. His own hand wrapped around Brian's penis and he felt the twitch that went through the man's body. It felt like he was touching himself, yet he wasn't. So similar to his own. He ran his hand up and down the shaft, careful not to squeeze too hard. He felt the moistness at the tip and ran his thumb through it, spreading it over the head. Just as Brian was doing to his own dripping organ.

 

Brian groaned into Face's mouth and broke their kiss. "That's so good," he whispered. He rested his forehead on Face's shoulder as they continued fondling each other for another half moment. Getting too close to going over the edge, they stopped, and just leaned against each other until some of the excitement ebbed.

 

Brian was beside himself in conflicting emotions. He hadn't meant for it to happen. He didn't know how it could have happened so quickly. So easily. He was falling for Face and falling hard. In such a short time. How was it possible? But the painful realization burned in his gut so terribly. He couldn't love this man like he wanted. He belonged to someone else. Maybe not 'belonged' technically yet, but he knew Face really wanted to be with that Murdock fella. Brian knew he himself was just a.... what? One time tutor? That's how it had started, at least.

 

From the way Face had been and was responding so ardently to him, Brian could tell he was also sensing something deeper happening. Brian hadn't missed the look of turmoil that had so quickly flashed through Face's eyes just before they'd come into the bedroom. But he couldn't let it happen. He wouldn't let Face and himself become involved in a relationship because Face would only end up being hurt by it in the long run. Brian wouldn't let Face miss his chance with Murdock.

 

But he would have this one night. This one night of just him and Face. As much as it hurt, he wouldn't even make love to Face the way he wanted. It wouldn't be fair. They would finish what they started. But without the intimacy of complete coupling that wasn't his to give or take.

 

Face heard the deep sigh that Brian couldn't hide. He couldn't decipher whether it was from excitement or despair. "You okay, Brian?" he asked gently while stroking Brian's arm.

 

Brian looked at him with eyes moist from unshed tears. "Yeah. I'm just fine." He pulled Face down onto the bed with him. He wanted to memorize every inch of this body before he lost it.

 

Face lay back against the pillows and began trembling as Brian worked his way down his body. He was going so slowly, using his hands and mouth to touch, kiss and lick. Finding areas Face didn't even realize before were erogenous for him. It seemed an eternity before Brian finally found the center of his being.

 

"Oh god!" Face gasped and squeezed the edges of his pillow when he felt the warm moistness envelope him. The experience wasn't new for him, he'd had it done plenty of times. But the sensation of having it done by someone who knew exactly what it would feel like was something very new. A man would know how to do it just right. Face quivered and raised his hips involuntarily when he felt a finger move across his anus. "Oh god, no one's ever made me feel like this," Face admitted heatedly as Brian's other hand squeezed the base of his cock to prevent him from cumming as his mouth and tongue performed magic on him.

 

Brian gave a final lick before working his way back up Face's body. He was glad he'd done it. He had to know what Face tasted like..... Better than the finest wine he'd ever had. Face had groaned in frustration when he felt the hot mouth leave him. That same mouth smothered his protests. He could taste some of what had to be himself and he loved it.

 

Brian held himself above Face, just barely letting their cocks nuzzle each other. He looked down into fiery blue eyes. "What's Tem short for?" he wanted to know.

 

He'd been hesitant about giving his name to a stranger earlier. But Brian was no longer a stranger. Far from it. "Templeton. Templeton Peck." A part of him was always afraid his name would be recognized from news reports about the Team. But Brian didn't show any recognition, only deep tenderness and seriousness.

 

"You're like sunshine and warm summer breeze, Templeton." Brian lowered himself and pressed against Face. "I could swim forever in the pools that are the windows to your soul."

 

Face was momentarily choked up by the words. He just wasn't used to his lovers attempting to make him feel so special. "Brian, I–I...." he couldn't think of anything to tell Brian how he was feeling.

 

Brian saved him with a quick kiss. "You don't have to say anything. I just wanted you to know what I see in you."

 

Face smiled self-consciously, but warmly, and he wrapped his arms around the body covering his that had begun a gentle rocking motion. On automatic, his legs opened, creating a cradle for Brian's body to nestle into. The new sounds coming from them both told of the incredibly erotic feelings the friction of their two pelvises grinding together was causing. Face thought to himself that if he'd known how wonderful this would be, he'd have done it years ago. Damn anyone who thought it was wrong or disgusting. It felt too good to be wrong.

 

'However, was it wrong to be doing this with someone other than the one man who'd admitted to loving you? Your emotionally sensitive best friend?'  his conscience asked.

 

'Oh fuck! Don't ask me that now!'  his sensually-heightened body screamed back in retaliation.

 

Face arched his body up to meet Brian's thrusts. Instinct told Face what their next step should be. His body wanted it, but there was an element of fear. Fear of pain partly. Also the fear of disappointment in Murdock's eyes if he could somehow tell he wasn't the first one there. But Brian had done so much for him tonight; given so much of himself. Shown Face that lovemaking knows no gender. Brian was giving Face the most loving, eye-opening experience of his lifetime. Shouldn't he be given the right to complete the experience?

 

Face bit his lower lip and moaned again when he felt Brian's tongue working on his ear and the tempo of their movements increased. He was on fire. Hot, scorching intensity radiating outward from his epicenter. Yes!  He wanted this Greek Adonis fully and completely.

 

"Brian?" Face's voice was raspy with desire.

 

Brian slowed his movements and looked into Face's eyes with concern. "What is it, Tem? I'm not hurting you am I?"

 

Face shook his head. "No, not at all," he whispered and gestured to the nightstand. "There's condoms in the drawer, if you want to...." He left the suggestion open, his eyes beseeching Brian's to understand that he was ready and wanting it.

 

Brian stopped moving and leaned off to the side of Face's body. He closed his eyes and leaned his head onto Face's shoulder. The words 'If you want to' echoed through his mind. Talk about understatement. He wanted to. Wanted to so bad he thought he'd die. He shook his head against Face's shoulder, then lifted it up. "No." He had to tear the word from his throat. He tried to hide his pain with a smile. "No. Let's just keep going as we were. You liked that, didn't you?" Brian reached over and stroked Face, not wanting his excitement to diminish.

 

"Yeah, I liked it." Face answered truthfully. "I just thought that–"

 

Brian shushed him by pressing his finger against Face's lips. "Good. Cause I was rather enjoying myself, too." He kissed Face. "And I would really like it...." He kissed Face again, "if you would...." another kiss, a squeeze to the hardness he was holding, "get on top of me,...." another kiss, another long stroke, "and finish off what we started." He nuzzled Face's nose, then his cheek. "Think you can do that?"

 

Face silently questioned Brian's refusal at fucking him. He'd wanted it badly enough, but at the same time was slightly relieved to no longer be under the pressure of the act itself and who he should be doing it with. And with what Brian was doing to him with his words, mouth and hand quickly had him accepting the challenge brought forth.

 

"I think I can handle that," he smiled playfully.

 

In one quick, smooth motion, Face had Brian on his back and he was straddling his hips. He grasped both their muscles in his hands, pressing and stroking them together. "Is this part of what you had in mind?" he asked immodestly.

 

Brian was glad Face didn't pursue the subject he wanted to avoid. It took some pressure off also in letting Face take charge and seeing him getting into it. "Mmmm. I'd say it's a start," he rubbed the thighs on either side of him, trying to press harder into Face's hand.

 

After a few seconds, Face released his hands, moving them to Brian's taut stomach to make small circles then moved them off to the sides. Face ran his hands up Brian's sides, pushing Brian's arms up and over his head as his hands ran the length of them. At the same time he stretched his body out over Brian's, pinning him in place.

 

"Is this better?"

 

"Much." Brian answered, loving the weight of his temporary lover covering his body. He gyrated his hips against Face's. "Now start moving."

 

And Face did. Now it became a matter of seeking release as quickly and powerfully as possible. Face released Brian's arms and their bodies melded together in a wild passionate struggle to culminate hours of tension and want. When the final release came, they came together amidst blinding lights, hoarse cries and panting breaths.

 

Afterwards.... after getting his breathing under control, Face rolled off. Never before had he cum so hard or so long. He was so amazed at the intensity of it. Brian was in no better condition. Their bodies were as lax and limp as rag dolls, still tingling and completely sated.

 

"That was incredible," Face finally said, taking a deep breath, filling his lungs, and slowly releasing it.

 

"I'll say." Brian laid his arm over his closed eyes and chuckled. "Damn! I'm exhausted."

 

"Hmm, me too." Face sighed, also very tired. He would have loved to slip into sleep, but the stickiness strewn across his abdomen began to bother him as it cooled. "We're also a mess. I'll get a towel."

 

Mustering energy, Face got up and went into the bathroom. He came back with a damp hand towel and glass of water. He offered the glass to Brian, who sat up and took it gratefully. Face cleaned himself off, then traded the towel for the glass. He finished off the water as Brian wiped himself.

 

A moment of awkward silence filled the room. Face recognized it all too well. He leaned back on his elbows, while Brian still sat up, looking down at his feet. "Will you stay the rest of the night?" Face asked hopefully.

 

Brian had been debating just that. He really wanted to stay and sleep with Face; another part thought it would be better just to leave and end it now. Looking at those blue eyes he knew when to give into temptation. "I'll stay." He reached over and tousled Face's already messed up hair playfully. "As long as you let me make breakfast in the morning."

 

Face pushed the hand away and attempted to fix his hair. "There's an offer I won't refuse."

 

Settling down underneath the blanket, laying against each other, Face yawned and clasped Brian's hand. "Thanks for tonight. I'll never forget it."

 

Brian squeezed Face's hand and quietly said, "I'll never forget you."

 

Nothing else was said that night. Both were too tired to do much talking even though things needed to be said. But neither wanted to hear them just yet.

 

===========

 

Late the next morning over plates of very impressive French toast, fruit and coffee they talked. Face began with the question utmost on his mind. He was kind of glad they hadn't done it, but he'd been wondering why Brian had refused when it was so obvious he'd wanted to.

 

Brian put his fork down at the pointed question. "I didn't fuck you because it wouldn't have been right." He laughed ironically and shook his head sadly. "Shit. We did just about everything but that though, didn't we? I never really intended it to go that far, but I just couldn't help but get carried away. It was the same for you."

 

Face smiled pensively and nodded his head in agreement.

 

"It's just that," Brian continued. "I never forgot the whole reason about last night. Your friend was always in the back of my mind. It should be him you do that with, not me. You now know that you can be with a man and feel comfortable about it, so take that and build a relationship with him."

 

Face stared at Brian with understanding and wonderment. "Are you always so self-sacrificing with your lovers?"

 

"Hardly," Brian chortled. "If circumstances were different, I'd have drilled you into the mattress half the night. Then had you pound me the other half."

 

Face's eyes widened at the thought, and he squirmed in his seat picturing it.

 

"Sorry," Brian said, noticing Face's discomfort.

 

Face snickered. "Not such a bad picture, really."

 

"Crudely put, though," Brian admitted. He'd had his own thoughts of the night before and had battled with himself on whether or not he should just come out with them. Because if there was ever a chance....

 

"Tem, umm...." he wavered, then took a deep breath and charged forward. "Templeton, you're different than most of the people I meet. Which isn't very often, by the way. I felt an instant attraction to you, right from the start."  Brian was staring down at his plate. He was nervous and felt an overwhelming need to gesture wildly with his hands. He stuck them under his thighs to keep them still. "Being with you last night.... Hell, even just talking with you meant alot more than you know." He sighed and looked up into Face's wide astonished eyes. "It was very special to me and I'll always remember it. And if there's ever a possibility.... If things don't work out between you and Murdock.... Not that I hope they won't! I hope they do! I want you to be happy!" he assured quickly, feeling more and more like a blithering idiot. "But if you ever find yourself looking for someone new..... feel free to look me up." He would have liked to have been able to say 'even if you just want to talk' as if they could be friends. But he knew that wouldn't work. He knew he couldn't be around Face as just a friend and not be able to touch him as more than just a friend.

 

Face couldn't help but stare in amazed wonder. Brian's feelings mirrored his own exactly. He knew everything Brian said was true, because he'd seen it in his eyes and actions the previous night. Hearing the words made his mind soar, and made his heart sink. Little condolence to the spirit.

 

"I felt the same way," Face admitted. "I had a hard time even remembering who Murdock was last night. You were the main thing on my mind. I don't have to imagine how painful this is for you, because it is for me also. But I do have to try with him. We go way back. He means alot to me, too."

 

Brian let out a long breath. "I know," he smiled compassionately. Deciding now would be a good moment to make his exit, Brian got up from the table and put his dishes on the counter. "I better go."

 

Sadly, Face got up and walked with Brian through the apartment to the door. "Can I give you a ride home?" he offered.

 

"Nah, I can get a cab outside." Brian hesitated, not quite sure how to say goodbye.

 

Face chose for him. He took Brian's arm and pulled him into a strong embrace. He needed to feel him one last time. When they separated, they were both trying valiantly to keep their emotions in check. On impulse Face asked, "Could I have your phone number?" He swallowed hard. "In case I decide to take you up on your offer someday."

 

Brian pulled a business card from his wallet. "It's got my office and home numbers on it." He handed it to Face, who grasped it tightly. They stared at each other a moment, then Brian opened the door. "I wish you and Murdock the best." He reached up and caressed Face's cheek with his thumb. "He better be good to you. You're something special."

 

Face's heart felt it was being squeezed in a vice. His voice was tight. "Thanks. For everything."

 

"Bye," Brian said, quickly turning around and closing the door behind him. But not before Face had seen the large tear start to slide down Brian's cheek.

 

Face leaned against the door, squeezing his eyes shut. "You're something special, too," he whispered.

 

He quickly wiped away the salty drops that managed to escape, took a deep cleansing breath and slowly released it.

 

"You better be worth it, Murdock. You better damn well make it worth it."

 

 

Part 10

 

Face immediately felt bad for the ultimatum. He had no right directing his anger at Murdock. He hadn't done anything wrong.... 'Except turn my world completely upside down. But hey, what are friends for?' he thought only half-mockingly.

 

Face started heading off to the kitchen to clean up and begin a day of intensive brooding when the phone suddenly rang. He glanced at his watch and immediately knew who it was. "Ahh geez! Forgot to check in again. Missed last night's too. Damn! Hannibal's probably pissed! I am not in the mood for this!" he whined.

 

Hannibal's "sentence" for the missed check-ins was two days of cleaning weapons, taking inventory, scrounging more supplies and helping BA wax his van. Under constant scrutiny and animalistic growls at every spot Face didn't buff well enough to suit the big guy. While he didn't particularly enjoy the workload, the time did give Face the chance to think without letting himself contemplate too much and getting his thoughts all twisted around.

 

He was missing Brian, of course. He hadn't been that  affected by anyone in a long, long time. And it hurt that it had to end just as abruptly as it had started. Face would never forget him, but he had to push Brian to the back of his mind and concentrate on how he was going to tell Murdock he was willing to give it a try with him. It would be strange and scary. Would they start out slow? Or would they click, hormones running rampant, and hop into bed right away? Face was attempting to envision himself and Murdock rolling around naked on a bed when BA's gruff voice interrupted.

 

"Would ya get yer head out of the clouds, Faceman! My van ain't gonna shine itself!"

 

"Well, excuse me!" Face snapped back irritably. He refolded the shammy cloth and went back over the spot he'd already gone over once. "This sucks! I don't know why you do this so often."

 

"Cuz I like my van clean and shiny! And I'm tired of you all messin' it up all the time! You help mess it up.... you help clean it up!" BA glared over at him from the bumper he was paying special attention to; getting every bit of wax from every little crevice. "What's up with you anyway?"

 

"Nothing's up with me. But I can think of a hundred other things I'd rather be doing than this!"

 

"Well, Lieutenant, this all could have been avoided if you'd just phoned in when you were supposed to," came Hannibal's easygoing voice from the lounge chair nearby. He was reading a Variety magazine and had his ever-present cigar resting between his teeth.

 

Face stood up then, pointing his hand with the shammy towards Hannibal. "That's something I've been meaning to bring up. This reporting in twice a day when we're on our own time is real annoying. Even once a day is more than enough, especially when you keep changing the time just to keep us on our toes! It does sometimes tend to put a crimp on one's lifestyle."

 

Hannibal removed the cigar from his mouth and used it to gesture. "Okay, Face. But when you find yourself locked in the house with many doors.... the one with lousy room service.... and wonder why it's taking us so long to notice you're gone; remember back to this day...."

 

Face rolled his eyes upward and let his shoulders sag. He'd heard it dozens of times before. "All right, already." He knelt back down to resume buffing the van's side. "Doesn't mean I have to like it."

 

"You know, BA, I think Face's attitude is getting to be as bad as yours," Hannibal teased.

 

"Nah. Somethin' else has got his head messed up. Maybe the fool's in love." BA giggled, enjoying putting Face through ridicule.

 

If looks could kill.... or at least maim.

 

Hannibal saw the look and laughed. "Is that it, Face? Who is she? Is the stewardess back?"

 

Face gave them both a look of pure scorn. "No, she's not. But I'm glad you both can have such fun at my expense." He blocked out their laughter with another thought that started his heart thumping with concern. What would Hannibal and BA think of their two other teammates in a closer relationship? Would they accept it and live with it? Or would they be disgusted and start throwing threats and ultimatums around? Face really didn't know for sure, but suspected it would be the latter. He and Murdock would just have to keep it from them, at least for a while.

 

Face felt something soft hit him and BA's voice brought him out of his thoughts again. ".... and get your mind on your work!"

 

===========

 

It was the next afternoon before Face worked up enough nerve to get Murdock out of the VA. He hadn't seen or talked to the pilot in four days, but knew Hannibal had told him the errant Lieutenant was "going to be kept busy" for a couple of days. Face hoped Murdock hadn't spent the past few days worrying that his confession had ruined their friendship. He felt guilty for not having at least called before today to see if his friend was okay.

 

Face had called Murdock just before he left to tell him he was on his way and to meet him behind the hospital at one of the picnic tables. Face dressed as an orderly, and pushing an empty wheelchair came up behind Murdock, who was sitting on top of one of the tables. He sighed as he got closer and heard Murdock talking to himself.

 

"Billy, if you want to go with me and Facey, you're gonna have to promise not to shed on anything. And you know how much it upsets him when you knock over your water bowl. You'll have to be careful." His hand was petting the empty air above his lap.

 

Face bit down the frustrated groan that threatened to escape. He wanted the sane Murdock today. Not the one with an invisible dog, and who also thought green Jello was a living organic substance used in biological warfare. Usually Face didn't mind these bizarre quirks about his friend; he even played along with him sometimes.... but  not  today!

 

"Hey, buddy, you ready for a game of dodge-em?" Face asked, coming around to the end of the picnic table.

 

"Facey!" Murdock greeted him enthusiastically. "I see you've been released from Hannibal's chain gang. Me 'n' Billy's ready to go. We just been sittin' here having a talk about doggy etiquette."

 

"Ahh, speaking of Billy," Face hedged as Murdock plopped down into the wheelchair. "I was thinking maybe you could leave him home this time. I thought you and I could be alone to have a nice little chat, and I wouldn't want him to feel neglected. Plus there's the fact that I had to have the apartment sprayed for fleas from the last time he was there." He started pushing the chair towards the corner of the building, waiting for the backlash from the fleas comment.

 

"Billy does not have fleas!" Murdock glared back at him indignantly. "I can take a hint," he understood Face didn't want to deal with his furry little invisible friend. "Besides, he'd probably rather stay here and play with Daisy anyway." He pushed the invisible spaniel mix from his lap. "Go on, Billy. Go find Daisy. I'll be back later."

 

"Who's Daisy?" Face asked, as if afraid of the answer.

 

"She's Billy's doggy girlfriend. They met over the weekend. She's a very lovely bulldog. Say, Facey, do you think we can pick up a copy of Lady and the Tramp so they can watch it together. It's so romantic. 'Specially the part where they're sharing the spaghetti dinner and there's the violin playing and the restaurant owner singing," Murdock pretended to be playing a violin, "This is the night.... what a beautiful night.... and they call it–" Murdock's deep tenor voice rang out the song until Face smacked him on the head.

 

"Would you hush? You're drawing attention to us!" Face looked around, then pushed the chair faster. "All right, we'll get the video. Just don't sing anymore!"

 

"Sheesh! Everyone's a critic!" Murdock rubbed his head.

 

They made it to the back edge of the parking lot. Not seeing anyone around, they made a quick dash to the Corvette and hopped in. Face drove out slowly, hoping no one noticed.

 

Safely out on the street heading towards Face's apartment, Murdock wondered what Face wanted to have a 'nice little chat' about. He figured it had something to do with what happened last Friday. Face probably wanted to make sure things were okay with them and reassure him again of their friendship. 'But why couldn't Face have just told me at the VA instead of taking me out then having to bring me home again. Unless....'  Did he dare entertain the thought? 'Could it be possible Face may have had a change of heart?'  he wondered. 'No! No! No! Don't even think it.'  He hoped he hadn't shook his head for real. 'Don't you dare think that, HM. You can't afford to go there now. Not anymore.... Could I?'  He slouched down in the seat and pulled his baseball cap down over his eyes, trying to block out any visions.

 

Face looked over at Murdock, wondering why he was sitting like that and being so quiet. 'Maybe this is going to be a mistake,'  he thought with some panic. 'How can I possibly seduce the man if he's going to phase out on me?'  Then another possibility occurred to him. 'Maybe he's just as nervous as I am. Yeah, that's probably it.'  Face's concern eased as he let himself believe that.

 

He studied Murdock's brown leather jacket, tan pants and baseball cap. The clothes he always wore. He imagined how much better Murdock would look if he wore more fashionable clothes and wondered if he'd consent to a shopping trip. The thought was short-lived; he'd tried before and met with stubborn obstinacy. Murdock considered his clothes his trademark that he had no intention of changing. 'Oh well, at least it's better than that wedding dress!'  Face grinned, remembering how Murdock had donned a wedding gown to help the woman in Texas escape her conniving, thieving fiancé at their wedding. That was a sight he'd never forget.

 

"What are you thinking about, Murdock?" Face asked casually, curious as to what was going on inside that head.

 

Murdock lifted his ball cap. "Matrix theories," he answered, then abruptly lowered his hat again.

 

"Matrix theories?" Face shook his head. "Oh boy, this is going to be interesting," he muttered.

 

"What's going to be interesting," Murdock suddenly spoke up, hoping to get some clue as to what was going to happen.

 

Face did a double take. 'Matrix theories, huh? He is nervous,'  Face deducted for sure.  "You'll see," he said lightly, keeping it a mystery. Despite his own nervousness, Face was looking forward to surprising Murdock.

 

Murdock's only response was to slouch further and cross his arms in front of himself. A couple of moments later, they arrived at Face's building. In the elevator, Face stood protectively in front of the control panel and sneered at Murdock so he wouldn't get the idea of pushing too many buttons again.

 

"Really, Face, you are oh so paranoid," Murdock said haughtily.

 

"With you, I have every reason to be."

 

"Hmph."

 

Once they were in the apartment, Face told Murdock to help himself to a soda while he went to the bedroom to change out of the orderly uniform. Murdock got his soda and meandered around the room, fiddling with this and that. He was remembering the embarrassing scene that had happened in this place the previous Friday and knew Face had been thinking about it, too. To what extent he didn't know, but why else would he be here? Murdock had meant everything he'd said to Face that day, but also meant everything that had crossed his mind and his path since. He sighed and rubbed his face in frustration. 'What the hell am I going to do?'

 

In the bedroom, thoughts were racing through Face's mind, too. He wanted his clothes to make an expression of interest for Murdock. Thinking simplistic but sexy was the best way, he chose a pair of softly faded blue jeans and a black T-shirt. Both very snug, of course. While tucking the T-shirt into his jeans, he looked at himself in the long mirror on the back of the closet door. He turned for a sideways appraisal. 'Yep,'  he thought with a grin, 'he'll like this.'  His grin faded as he imagined Brian's lustful eyes taking in this sight. Face shook the thought away. He couldn't let himself think of Brian right now. This was Murdock's time.

 

Face walked out of the bedroom and stood silently in the doorway watching Murdock rearranging things on the fireplace mantle. How was he going to approach him? How was he going to find the right words to tell Murdock he was willing to explore a more intimate relationship, not knowing where it would lead or if it would last for the long haul at all. For a conman with the gift of gab, he was suddenly at a loss for words. And to top it all, he was worried about consciously or unconsciously comparing Murdock to Brian. That wouldn't be fair at all.

 

Face squared his shoulders and cleared his throat as he entered the room. "Hey HM. You planning on becoming an interior decorator?" he joked nervously.

 

"Nah.... that's your forte, not mine." Murdock said, then turned around to acknowledge Face. His breath hitched and he couldn't help but stare for a quick few seconds at the lean form standing only a few feet away. He turned back around before his face flushed and fiddled with the knick knacks some more, putting them back in their original position. 'Damn, he looks good!'  he thought salaciously. 'That Joe Morgan look....'  Murdock remembered practically drooling over the campaign posters they'd distributed when Face was running for sheriff of that small town. Not only the way he filled out those same clothes; but the sexy, mischievous gleam in his eyes. 'This isn't fair.'

 

"So, ah, what's so important that I had to miss the mice races today, Face?" He winced at the squeakiness of his voice.

 

Knowing his entrance achieved its purpose, Face swallowed hard and moved closer. "Well, um, I've been thinking about what you said last week." He brushed his hand through his hair and rubbed the back of his neck anxiously. "And I, ah, thought maybe we could–"

 

"Could what?" Murdock interrupted, turning back around cautiously.

 

Face thought for a moment, then let it all sputter out. "I thought we could give it a try. Give us a try. I'm okay with it. I don't know how much you want to put into it, or if it will even work or not, but I want to give it a shot." Face took a deep breath and wiped his moist palms on his jeans. "What do you think?"

 

Murdock stood there in shock for a moment, letting the words fly by him again. He couldn’t believe it.... after all these years.... Face could finally be his. He let the breath out he'd been holding. 'Why now? Why not last Friday? Why did he have to wait till now?'

 

Getting only shocked silence and a dumbfounded look from Murdock, Face opened up more. "I'm okay with the physical part, too. I'm not afraid of it." He hoped Murdock wouldn't ask how  he'd become okay with it just yet, though he'd probably have to admit it someday.

 

His brown eyes got wide as he sputtered, "Ph-ph-physical p-part?!"

 

'Show him you mean it,'  Face told himself. "Yeah." He ran his tongue over his lips to moisten them and put himself directly in front of Murdock. "Starting with this." He grabbed a fist full of leather in each hand and gently pulled Murdock to him. With a look of complete candidness in his eyes, Face brought his mouth to Murdock's and pressed tenderly. He felt Murdock flinch, but held him securely. He liked the softness of Murdock's lips, but would have liked more of a response from the recipient. Face opened up a bit more and moved his lips over Murdock's more firmly, trying to get that response.

 

Murdock stood fixed to the spot, unable to react to the sudden onslaught of the very thing he'd wished after for so long. His body finally relaxed and let itself respond when he felt Face lips become more demanding. He very tentatively rested his hands on the forearms that were holding onto his jacket and opened his own mouth more.

 

Face could taste the grape soda Murdock had been drinking. 'This is good. Very good,'  he thought, sighing contentedly. He felt Murdock's shuddering breath and broke their kiss. He smoothed the wrinkles he'd put in the jacket and looked into Murdock's eyes. "So?"

 

"I-I, uh, l-liked that. I really did," he shakily answered. His senses were coming back to him and he made himself think. 'Why the sudden change in Face? A few days ago, he never would have considered this. Who was he really doing this for?'  Murdock ran his hands down Face's arms and took hold of his hands.

 

"I need to know something, though. Are you doing this because you think it's what will make me happy? I know you too well, Face. And it's just like you to give me whatever I want." 'And at the moment, what I want is confusing the hell out of me,'  were his unspoken words.

 

The question surprised Face and he had to think a moment to search for the truth. "I want to make us both happy." Looking into conflict-filled brown eyes, he added. "I've been thinking about it alot. No one knows me better than you. Even with all the dumb crap I've pulled over the years, you always stuck by me and never left me. Even after that fiasco last week–"

 

"Ah, I didn't mean any of that!" Murdock cut in with a pained look. "I was a complete butthead and jerk and–"

 

"We both were." Face quickly reassured. "What I'm trying to say is I know something good when I see it. You're a good person. And I'd be an idiot to pass up on something and someone who's as good for me as you are."

 

Murdock's guts were churning and his head was spinning. Here he was, hearing the very words that only a few days ago would have had him flying into the hemisphere with happiness. If he'd had any idea Face would go and change for him.... but he hadn't known. Now what was he going to do? After everything Face had just told him, how was he going to avoid hurting Face? If he'd only known....

 

If he'd only known.... he wouldn't have had that talk with Dr. Richter. If he'd only known.... he wouldn't have let what happened happen. If he'd only known.... he wouldn't have to tell Face.... that he'd.... changed his mind....

 

Changed his mind about them.... about he and Face. And how easy it had been to do that under the circumstances.

 

Murdock's mind raced with these problems. Face was staring at him, waiting for a response, beginning to wonder if Murdock hadn't zoned out again.

 

"Murdock?" Face asked quietly. Getting no response, he grasped Murdock by the arms and shook him gently. "Murdock!" he said more loudly this time.

 

"Huh?" Murdock blinked back into awareness.

 

Face tried not to show his impatience. "Geez, I didn't mean to put you into shock."

 

It took a few seconds for Murdock's mind to register again. "Just a bit dazed is all. I really wasn't expectin' all this." He took a few steps away from Face, jammed his hands into his pockets and turned back around. "You really meant all that, didn't you?" He didn't really need an answer, he knew it to be true. But his mind needed time to sort out his emotions.

 

"Of course I did." Face was a little confused by Murdock's reactions. He expected him to be more happy, even a little more amorous. 'Maybe he just doesn't know how to proceed,'  Face thought. 'It's not like he has the experience in the romance department that I do. Maybe he needs a little push.'

 

"You said you were in love with me, HM. It's been a long time since I've been able to love anyone." He was thinking of his college sweetheart Leslie, but a fleeting vision of Brian flashed through his mind before he could stop it. He continued on unswerving. "I'd like to know what that feels like again. I'm not saying it will happen right away. It may not work at all. But we won't know unless we give it a try."

 

Murdock's heart began to melt when he saw the hopeful look in Face's expression. How could he possibly ignore that? Yes, he had said he was in love with Face. But at the time, he didn't think that Face would be able to return that love. Face had no idea what had happened with him over the weekend. Maybe he didn't have to know. After this past weekend, Murdock had fully accepted the fact that he could go on. Although, it wasn't as if he technically  had a commitment to anyone else. 'Would it really hurt to give it a shot with Face?'  Murdock asked himself uncertainly. He took another look at Face and the body he'd always desired. The same body that was closing the distance between them.

 

"What do you think?" Face asked him quietly, standing very close again.

 

Murdock swallowed the lump in his throat. "I th-think that would be nice," he found himself saying.

 

Face still wasn't happy with the lackluster responses he was getting. "Just nice?" he teased, reaching for the tab on the zipper of Murdock's jacket and played with it.

 

"Um, very  nice?" Murdock closed his eyes in frustration at his own stupid-sounding answer. "I mean.... yes! I'd like that very much, too." His face flushed not only from embarrassment, but from the way his body was starting to react to Face's nearness.

 

"Good. I'm glad to hear that." Face smiled at Murdock's red face, knowing it wasn't the temperature of the room that was causing it. He used it to his advantage, though. "If you're too warm, you could take the jacket off." He slowly pulled the tab down the few inches to the bottom until it separated.

 

"That probably would be more comfortable," Murdock admitted, feeling very warm indeed. He shrugged it off his shoulders and Face helped pull it down and off his arms, tossing it to a nearby chair.

 

"So now what?" Face asked Murdock, offering to let him make the choice since he seemed to be more nervous. Not that Face didn't feel a few small butterflies fluttering around in his own stomach.

 

"Well, uh...." Murdock's body knew exactly what it wanted to do. It wanted to hold Face's body as tight as possible and take out years of pent-up desire on it. On the other hand, his conscience was saying it would be a betrayal. But here was Face standing so close, practically oozing sensuality. Obviously very willing to let Murdock do whatever his heart desired. 'I'd have to be really crazy to pass up on this chance,'  he thought, giving into temptation.

 

"....we could kiss some more," he said with a new hope in his expression.

 

Face smiled, liking this answer. He took Murdock's hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the palm. Then Murdock brought Face's hand up to kiss. Their eyes held for a few seconds before they brought their mouths together.

 

It didn't take long for the kiss to become deep and probing. Moans and intakes of breath whenever possible were the only sounds. Murdock put his arms around Face, squeezing him against himself. Longing and passion flowed through his veins, heating him even more. Until now, he never thought he'd be holding Face like this. It was his dream come true, and he didn't want to let it escape.

 

Face held onto Murdock, also. He couldn't help but notice Murdock's excitement pressing against him, which spurred on his own. It left little doubt as to how they would be spending the day.

 

Barely even being conscious of it, Face backed Murdock towards the bedroom. So intent they were in each other that it didn't register with Murdock where they were until the backs of his legs bumped into the bed. It jolted his brain back into awareness and he again felt a stab of guilt from what he was letting himself do. He looked into Face's eyes as adept hands began slowly pulling his Atom Ant T-shirt up and over his head. It registered they were blue eyes, not a familiar different color.

 

"You're being awfully quiet," Face said, as his hands moved to Murdock's shoulders and down his arms. He really thought Murdock would be a bit more animated, but he just didn't seem to be himself.

 

"Guess I just can't believe this is happening," was the first thing that came to mind, which was the truth.

 

"Me either. It is a bit different, isn't it," Face admitted. "But I know I'm ready for it. We can do whatever you want." With that he gently guided Murdock down to lie on the bed and lay down with him, leaning slightly over him.

 

"Anything, huh?" Murdock asked uncertainly. 'Where was this boldness in Face coming from? Until today, Face had never, in all the years I'd known him, ever showed any such interest in another man. What had changed him so drastically?'  This was adding to his already frazzled nerves.

 

"Hmm. Hmm," Face mumbled as his mouth found the pilot's neck and began working its way down his shoulder. Murdock tasted different. Smelled different, too. Compared to the only other man he'd done this with. Brian had smelled and tasted so.... masculine and virile. Face had to stop himself there. He knew he shouldn't be comparing Murdock to Brian. They were two completely different people. Murdock had his own uniqueness that invaded Face's senses quite nicely on their own.

 

Murdock's chest was heaving as Face wove his fingers through the thick mat of hair that covered it. A little too much hair for his liking, but he found the nipple and moved some hair out of the way so his mouth could work it.

 

"Ouch!" Murdock gasped when Face nipped too hard. "Take it easy, huh?"

 

"I'm sorry," Face apologized, quickly kissing and licking the nipple to soothe it. He felt bad that he assumed Murdock would like a little rough nipple-play as he himself did. Murdock sighed. It sounded to him sort of like a sigh of contentment, so Face continued with the foreplay.

 

It was far from a sigh of contentment. Murdock was remembering the gentleness and love that he'd received just the night before. From someone who used his hands, mouth, and entire body to take him to heights he'd never flown before. The someone who's love and trust he didn't want to betray or lose. It was now tearing him up inside. In his mind and heart he knew this was wrong and he couldn't do it anymore. He would hurt Face, no doubt, but he had to do it. He'd have to explain, and hope Face would forgive him. When he felt Face's hand touch the bulge in his pants, it was like hitting his panic button.

 

"Face, please stop!" Murdock bolted off the bed, knocking Face away. Breathing too quickly, he picked his shirt up and hurriedly pulled it on. He then looked down at Face who was staring wide-eyed and questioning at him. He had to look away and began to pace nervously across the floor.

 

'What the hell just happened?'  Face wondered in near fright. "Did I do something wrong?"

 

Murdock shook his head then wrapped his arms around himself and kept pacing.

 

"I'm sorry, Murdock. What did I do?" He was scared by the anxiety and anguish pouring off Murdock. "I-I thought you wanted this."

 

Murdock sighed and stopped his frantic movements, dropping his arms to his sides in defeat. He had the same look he did when he first confessed his feelings to Face the Friday before. He looked over to Face, barely able to keep eye contact, he felt so bad. "You didn't do anything wrong. It's me."

 

"What do you mean?" Face sat up on the edge of the bed, giving Murdock his full attention.

 

Murdock closed his eyes to concentrate on the right words, but his thought processes chose to duck out on him for the moment. "I meant what I said the other day. About lovin' you and all. But.... " he looked towards the ceiling and ran his hands through his hair. "....it's just that...." His arms dropped and his hands slapped against his thighs. "....things have changed since then for me."

 

Face had a totally confused look. "How?"

 

Murdock hesitated, not sure what to say. He finally blurted, "I've changed my mind. About us."

 

Face's mouth dropped open. "Changed your mind?" He was more confused than ever. And getting a little angry. 'How could he just change his mind? After everything I've done to get to this point!'   "What do you mean 'changed your mind'?" His voice rose. "How can you just change your mind about something like this?!"

 

"I just have." Murdock shrugged. "I'm insane, remember. My mind works in strange ways."

 

"I'll say!" Face stood up. "Murdock! Do you have any idea what I–" He was about to say "gave up for you" but stopped himself in time. Instead, he finished with "–what this meant to me?"

 

Murdock felt so bad. Face had every right to be angry at him. He'd led Face on. He should have stopped this before the first kiss. But his temptations had gotten the better of him. Face deserved the truth.

 

"I'm sorry, Face. I really am," Murdock pleaded forgiveness. "I can't imagine how much thought and determination you went through to do this for me."

 

'No, you don't have any idea at all!'  Face thought irritably.

 

"I just hope you can understand and forgive me when I tell you this.... It's not that I  just changed my mind. I guess I worded that badly." Murdock took a deep breath. "I've met somebody else."

 

"What?"

 

"I've met someone else, Face. And I think I'm in love with him."

 

"Him?" Face sat down heavily on the bed, his mouth hung open again.

 

"Yes.... him. Face, close your mouth before a bug flies into it."

 

"Huh?" Face stared stupidly, then realized the words and shut his mouth. 'Murdock was in love with someone else?'

 

"Facey, please don't be angry with me," Murdock begged. "It just happened. We met and we just clicked. I can't really explain it. I've only known GW like this for a few days, but it's like we're destined for each other. It's really weird."

 

"Oh," was all Face could say. Murdock didn't want him anymore as a lover. He was amazed to find he wasn't really hurt by this. In fact, the story sounded very familiar. He felt a wave of  anticipation as he realized what this could mean for him.

 

"Ohhh!" he said again, more energetically.

 

He got up and put his arm around Murdock's shoulders. "It's okay, I understand. Don't feel bad, I'm not angry." He merrily guided Murdock out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen. "I'll make us something to eat, and you can tell me all about GW. Okay?"

 

It was Murdock's turn to look totally confused at Face's sudden turnaround. He scratched his head and seriously wondered about his friend. "Uh, okay."

 

 

TBC

 


Make Way For Murdock 1-10 by SherryGabs
Make Way For Murdock 11-12 by SherryGabs
Make Way For Murdock 13-14 by SherryGabs

 

 


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