When she sees Murdoc, she thinks shadows. Demons. Except once you get past his shadowy, demony mask he is not really shadowy or demony at all. At least to her. She loves Murdoc, because even though he acts mean to her when the others are around, when it is just him and her, it is Noodle-girl and Noodle-love and pet names. She loves him because he feels like he has to hide. His affection. Because when he shows it to her - and anyone else lucky enough to see that side of him, she imagines - it reminds you just how powerful Murdoc is. Everything about him. Tense. Intense. The sort of brutal grace he moves with. The growly glowering tone of his voice. Even when he curses. Especially when he curses. He curses all the time, except when it is just him and her. She loves him because he is careful with her, and reserves the less growly glowering tones of voice for her. The f-word should have lost all meaning by now, at least coming from Murdoc, the way he drops it all the time. In greetings, conversation, idle comments about the weather and of course when he gets mad. He does not get mad, though, not really. He keeps his temper in check, mostly, until it gets to be more than he can stand. He really just jumps from happy (for Murdoc, anyway) to furious.

But it is rare that he gets that angry. At least recently. When they are recording he is usually much calmer, sometimes even happy. When he can thrash his bass, beat it senseless and make lots of noise and have something to show for it at the end of the day. Something that is constructive, that does not hurt. Anyone. That will make people happy. It makes her happy. Because he is happy, and because when he is happy 2D is happy. Not that 2D is sad very much, but she does see the way he tries to blend into the wall sometimes when he passes Murdoc. Sometimes he just turns around and goes in the opposite direction. Usually that has something to do with a new bruise or a bloody nose 2D mysteriously got sometime during the previous night. Noodle never sees him trip or fall or even bump into things, not even in a dark room. She knows it is Murdoc. Who does it.

She is happy when Murdoc is happy, because then 2D has fewer bruises. Bruises that hurt her when she looks at them. Bruises that make her angry. Bruises that make her hate Murdoc.

Sometimes she cries because of it, but not when anyone can see her. She cries for 2D, fighting with some pain that only Murdoc can seem to take his mind off of. Cries for Murdoc because of the things that happened that he tries to forget. Cries because he makes her hate him. She does not like to hate Murdoc, because she loves Murdoc. But she loves 2D, too. She does not cry very much, though, because it does not get that bad very much. After she stops crying, she meditates. And she goes to talk to Murdoc. She tells him that she sees the look on his face when 2D passes him, with a new bruise or a bloody nose or ligature marks on his wrists and neck. She tells him that she sees his eyes soften for a moment, become clouded. With guilt. Before he puts on his mask again and leers at 2D. Snarls at Russel if he says anything. And does not say anything to her. Does not even look at her.

Around 2D, she knows, Murdoc is the shadowy demony person that has never existed for her. There is no gentleness, no soft voice or pet names. And she lets him see her eyes clouded with tears, but only for a moment. So maybe he will see. What he does to people. To 2D. That pain exists for other people, and that his pain will not go away by hurting others. She tells him that sometimes it only makes it worse. Sometimes it becomes guilt too. She tells him that 2D goes to him with his pain because he looks up to him and he wants his help. Help that even she and Russel cannot give. She asks him to be more gentle with 2D. To show him the soft voice and pet names. To show him that he does not hate him. To show him that he might even care.

Sometimes he tells her she doesn't understand, that some things that may seem strange or horrible are sometimes the only way to make things better. Sometimes he snarls at her and tells her to go away.

Sometimes he does not say anything. And she knows that he understands. She knows he will stop. For a little while. And she knows that when 2D goes to the Winnebago that night the shouts she hears will not be shouts of pain. And 2D will be happy again, and won't try to blend into the walls or run away from Murdoc. He will smile again, even when there is nothing to smile about. He will hum melodies to songs that do not exist. And Murdoc will not leer at 2D or snarl at Russel or look away from her. The hard edge in his eyes and the glare will go away. He will not smoke as much, and there will be fewer empty liquor bottles in the garbage. 2D's bruises will go away and the tension in the studios will be lifted. Until something happens to trigger Murdoc's memories again and 2D will hurt and Russel's eyes will harden and Noodle will cry. She will cry because Murdoc and 2D cannot. Their cigarettes and their liquor and 2D's bruises are their tears. They forget that tears are supposed to cleanse and heal. That is what she tries to show Murdoc, when she lets him see her tears.

But he never understands that part.

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A/N: Murdoc is a bastard, and yet I love him so. And 2D and Noodle, of course. The thought of ligature marks on 2D's wrists and neck disturbs me. Poor kid. I don't know how I feel about Noodle hearing their love noises from outside, nor do I know if such a thing is possible. I am not familiar with the layout of Kong Studios. Ah well. I do not have much else to say, except that I hope you liked it. Reviews are love.