1. Looking back, when Murdock skidded to a stop in front of them, with Face a bit behind him and not looking happy, B.A. should have known that his nice day at the demolition derby was going to be ruined. Ruined by someone other than Hamilton and his goon squad, that is.

"This is gonna be awesome," were the first words out of Murdock's mouth, which should have been another clue, along with his too-bright eyes and grin that was just a little too wide.

But B.A. was having a good day, and they weren't doing anything more than getting into where they kept all the cars right before the derby, to figure out how Hamilton was sabotaging the other cars and how they would catch him at it. Face and Murdock were supposed to be taking care of getting them back there, while he kept an eye out for Hamilton and Hannibal reassured the client that no one was going to get hurt this time.

Murdock was bouncing on the balls of his feet by the time Face caught up, looking like he was about to burst with whatever it was that was going to be awesome.

"The battle axe at the gate isn't letting anyone through but the drivers and their team," Face said.

"So what's the problem, kid?" Hannibal asked. "You've dealt with that before."

Face shifted a little, and glanced to Murdock, and then to B.A., before refocusing on Hannibal. "She won't let anyone through who doesn't have a car in the derby, Hamilton's orders. She's a real stickler for rules, especially ones that come from him. Danny tried to get us added to the list as with him, but that's a no go, too."

"But there's a van class going after the little ones," Murdock said. "I've got my white coveralls all ready."

"You gotta be crazy," B.A. said, because there was no way this wasn't going in a direction that didn't involve them trying to destroy his girl.

"As a loon," Murdock confirmed, while Face stood beside him looking a little queasy.

"No." It wasn't negotiable. They could find their own damn van if the two of them wanted to play demolition derby driver.

"Okay, I can be Carole then," Murdock said easily, like whatever he was going on about was the problem and not that they wanted to destroy his van. "But I'm not going to go work for any-"

"No. You. Are. Not. Using. My. Van." B.A. hoped that maybe, if he enunciated every word enough, Murdock would drop it, and Hannibal would come up with a plan that didn't involve breaking the most important thing he owned.

"It's a little too late for that," Face said, looking at Hannibal like he thought he would be able to save him. "Murdock already signed up, and if he backs out, they're kicking Danny out, too. I tried to talk him out of it, really."

"C'mon, Bosco, it won't be that bad. You got it running again after someone pancaked it."

"That wasn't 'someone'," B.A. growled, not bothering to go into the difference between an A/C unit that left the engine and transmission intact, and a demolition derby. "That was you."

He stepped forward, already reaching out to grab hold of Murdock and maybe strangle him a little, when Murdock seemed to realize that this wasn't ending in anything other than pain for him. He stepped back quickly, but nothing short of growing wings and flying away was going to save him from B.A.

"B.A." When Hannibal grabbed his shoulder, he automatically turned back to face him. "Why don't we wait and see how this pans out."

"The only way it's pannin' out is with that crazy mother-" Except, when he turned back to grab Murdock and demonstrate exactly how it was going to pan out, he was gone. Face was left looking like he would have rathered been back in prison than standing in front of B.A.

Which was smart, because Face could've stopped Murdock, but didn't. This was just as much his fault, and right now, B.A. wasn't too choosy about who to express his anger to.


2. B.A. wasn't in any better a mood after he had to hand over his keys to Murdock - or, rather, he had to give them to Hannibal who would give them to Murdock when that coward came out of hiding. He didn't want to watch, but he couldn't make himself go too far away from the track. He owed her that much.

The last thing he expected, as he was staring at where the vans would be starting in fifteen minutes and planning all the different ways he was going to hurt that sucker, was for the aforementioned sucker to pop up beside him, grinning like B.A. wasn't about to kill him. He had Murdock pinned against the fence as soon as he realized who it was.

"Wait, wait!" Murdock dug into his pockets like he wasn't pinned against a fence by someone who was going to kill him. "I brought you a present! You don't want to kill me before you get your present, right?"

B.A. almost did, but Murdock looked so hopeful that he stepped back, saying, "Make it quick."

If it was at all possible, Murdock's grin got wider, and he tossed the van's keys at B.A., who snatched them out of the air. If he could drive, then maybe he could avoid the worst of the-

"Hannibal and Faceman are waiting with her in the parking lot," he realized Murdock was saying, "and we gotta go quick, before they realize that they're down a van and a driver."

He was already taking off for the parking lot as soon as it clicked that she wasn't going to be destroyed, not tonight, with Murdock easily keeping up with him. "There was only one exit. How'd you manage to drive out without anyone noticin'?"

"People get real upset when someone sets a car on fire," he said, like he couldn't understand why that was, "and they stop paying attention to making sure no one leaves."

He could live. This time.

"I was thinking, she needs a name. It's not nice to keep calling her your girl, when she's her own van, with her own hopes and dreams. How about Giselle?"

Maybe not.


3. When B.A. glanced across the blacktop and saw that Murdock was at the youth center again, he was less surprised and more resigned. Since he'd mentioned that the center was short-staffed, Murdock started showing up to volunteer a couple hours once or twice a week. The kids loved him, even though he tended to cause more trouble than they did. Hell, they were kids. They loved him because he caused more trouble than they did.

The resignation turned into gratitude when he glanced back over a few minutes later and realized Murdock was trying to break up a fight between Chris, a kid who'd just moved to L.A., and one of the groups of boys who tried to haze the new kids when none of the adults were around. He told the kids he was playing ball with that he'd be right back, and jogged over to the scuffle. By the time he was halfway there, Murdock had them separated and, after looking up and meeting his eyes for a moment, herded Chris inside.

Trying to get a straight story out of a group of kids was like trying to get Murdock to answer a question he didn't like directly. After the fourth round of the only two who were willing to say anything claiming that they didn't know what happened, the kid just attacked them, B.A. gave up for the moment and went in to track down Murdock and Chris.

He found them inside one of the little rooms meant for kids who had homework to do. Chris had an icepack pressed to one cheek, and Murdock was sitting next to him, talking too quietly for B.A. to hear.

"Okay, see," he said, as B.A. came into the room. When he was within arms' reach, Murdock grabbed his hand and pulled him closer. And then didn't let go. "Me and Bosco, we've been together for ten years."

He was going to kill Murdock. Two months was not the same thing as ten years; he was nearly falling to his death ten years ago. Besides, they'd agreed to keep this quiet for a while - Murdock had been the one to suggest they keep it quiet in the first place - and ain't nowhere in the world that keeping something quiet and telling it to a ten year old coexisted.

They were both looking up at him, Murdock like he thought B.A. was supposed to say something now, and Chris like he didn't believe a word Murdock said.

"Really?" Chris asked, looking from B.A. to their clasped hands - Murdock was holding on too tight for B.A. to pull away without it being really obvious that he was jerking away - and back again.

B.A. crouched down so that he was at eye-level, shooting a look at Murdock that he hoped said "You and me are gonna have a long talk after this," but judging by the way Murdock grinned back, none of that was getting through. "Yeah, really. What happened out there, little brother?"

"They called my dads fags and they said- They said-"

"They said some really not nice things that aren't true," Murdock helpfully supplied. B.A. could guess what some of those things were.

"People are gonna say mean things," he said, "because they get scared when not everyone's the same as them. That doesn't make them right, and it doesn't make it okay for them to be saying it. But you're not gonna change their minds by hittin' anyone."

"But they said their dads could take my dads, because-"

B.A. didn't catch all of what Chris mumbled at the end, but he got the gist of it. Before he could say again that violence wasn't the way to go, no matter how much some people deserved it, Murdock said, "And B.A. could take all their dads at the same time, right? So they're wrong."

Chris started to smile a little, and B.A. decided that maybe the talk he and Murdock were having later on might not be all yelling.

"I got this, Bosco," Murdock said, "if you wanna go and deal with... You're better at being scary than me, anyway."

"You gonna be okay with Murdock?" he asked Chris, who nodded. So he squeezed Murdock's hand as he got up and let go. He'd go round up the other kids who'd been in the fight, and have a little talk with them about why none of that bullshit was okay.


4. Of all the ways B.A. did not want to spend his afternoon, "picking grit out of what could just as easily be hamburger as Murdock's knee" was pretty high on the list, with "Murdock jumping off a parking garage" right below it. He figured it was close enough to Murdock jumping off a bridge into the ocean in the middle of winter that his "I will kill you if you ever do that again" rule applied.

"This ain't the stupidest thing you've done, but it's pretty close," he said, concentrating on holding Murdock's damn leg still while he poured peroxide over it.

"This doesn't even make my top twenty greatest hits," Murdock said, like that made B.A. seeing him lying there on the pavement, when the last place he'd seen him was up on the fifth level of the garage, completely okay. "On my comeback tour, this is the one only hardcore fans will want to see again."

"Dead people don't get comeback tours," B.A. said, "not after they jump off a garage."

"It was only the second level!"

Yeah, it was only the second level, but he knew Murdock. He liked to think he knew Murdock as well as anyone could, and he wasn't sure that it being one of the upper levels would've stopped him. "And if it'd been higher?"

"Then it woulda hurt a lot more." B.A.'s fingers digging into his calf seemed to make him realize that that wasn't the answer he'd wanted. "I got the guy, and I still got all my parts attached. So it turned out okay."

That was true; Murdock had landed on the guy they were chasing. He would have been fine if he hadn't come out of the roll wrong and ended up skidding on his knees. And even then, he would have still been fine if he hadn't been wearing jeans with a hole in one knee.

"What were you doin', wearin' jeans with holes in the knees anyway?" He got the last of the big pieces out, and Murdock hissed as he started in on the little bits.

"I didn't know I was gonna be Spider-Man today," Murdock snapped, "otherwise I woulda worn my spandex with the unstable molecules in the pants. Wouldja quit jabbin' me with those things."

"It's gonna hurt when I'm pickin' pavement outta your knee." He was trying to be as gentle as possible, but there was only so much he could do when he was sticking tweezers into raw nerve endings. The way Murdock refused to understand that he had been worried wasn't making him want to be any gentler. Still, he ran his free hand soothingly up and down the back of his calf, which was all he could do at the moment.

"I love you," Murdock said abruptly.

B.A. stopped and looked up at him, because what? He hadn't expected the warm fuzzy feelings - and it was completely Murdock's fault that he even thought those words, never mind applied them to himself - that filled him, and he tried not to grin because he was still mad. If Murdock thought that was going to distract him, he had another think coming.

"I- I didn't mean it like love love?" Murdock said after the silence had stretched on for a bit longer while B.A. tried to adjust to the fact that, at some point, this had gone from a fun distraction to a relationship to a serious relationship without him noticing. And without it bothering him that he couldn't really imagine a life that didn't include getting mad at Murdock at least once a month for his love of near death experiences.

"I meant... for not- for trying to make it hurt less even though you're mad?" Murdock continued, looking worried like he'd just destroyed his favorite R/C plane. He would have sounded a lot more believable if he hadn't been ending every sentence as a question.

As Murdock kept talking, B.A. went back to picking the rest of the grit out; when he got rolling like this, it took a lot to get him to stop and listen. It was easier to just let him wind down, and then say what needed to be said.

"And I wouldn't really have gone over the side if it'd been higher," he continued in a rush, then added, "Probably," which kind of killed the effect. "But really, I didn't mean love like be together forever love. That's fine if you don't want that! I'm okay with that, I swear, I don't need-"

He was twitching with nervous energy now, and B.A. could feel the tension in his leg as he tried to keep Murdock's knee from jabbing itself with the tweezers. "Stop movin'," he said.

Murdock froze, and stopped running his mouth, which was a minor miracle. B.A. was able to get the last few pieces of grit out and put peroxide on the whole thing in half the time it would have taken him when he'd first made Murdock sit down so he could look at the damage.

When he was done, he straightened up, and pulled Murdock closer so he could kiss him. Murdock grabbed onto him, and B.A. felt a twinge of guilt when he realized that his hands were shaking a little. It quickly grew beyond a twinge when Murdock kissed back desperately, like he really was afraid that he'd ruined the best thing he had.

It took a minute, but he managed to pull back a little. Murdock's fingers were still digging into his arms, so he couldn't pull back too far, but it was enough to look Murdock in the eye and say, "I love you too. But if you thought that was gonna stop me from bein' mad-"

Murdock's entire body slumped in relief, and his fingers relaxed their death grip as he started to grin like a fool. "I didn't! I wasn't, I just-"

B.A. could see this quickly devolving into another half hour of Murdock running his mouth but not actually saying anything, so he leaned forward and kissed him until he wasn't thinking about talking anymore.


5. They'd all been up for going on thirty-six hours, everyone exhausted and wanting to sleep. But they had to get the plan hammered out right then, because in another six hours, they were going to get their only chance to pull it off.

B.A. was sitting on the couch in the living room of the house Hannibal had rented for the week, with Murdock sitting at the other end. He watched Hannibal as he stood in front of the map they'd tacked to the wall, studying it. Face was propping up his head on his fist, but looked like he was seriously considering slouching down in the chair and taking a quick nap. The idea didn't sound half bad, the more B.A. thought about it. He really hoped Hannibal figured out whatever he was figuring out soon.

When Murdock grabbed his arm and lifted it up, he didn't realize what was happening until Murdock had already lain down, head in his lap, and drawn his arm around his chest like a crappy blanket.

"I ain't your pillow," he said, considering whether or not it was worth the energy it'd take to push him off.

"Sure thing, Bosco," Murdock mumbled, patting his knee and already mostly asleep.

Instead of making him sit up, B.A. sighed and shifted his trapped arm so that it was more comfortable. His free hand came to rest on Murdock's hair, his fingers thread through it a bit. In for a penny, in for a pound.

When he looked up, Face was staring at them and blinking, his brow furrowed like he was trying to make sense of what he was seeing. B.A. wasn't surprised; Face was kind of oblivious, sometimes, to the things that didn't involve him.

He was pretty sure that Hannibal knew, had probably known what was going on long before Murdock even knew. He always said that a plan wasn't a plan unless you were three steps ahead of the enemy, but B.A. was pretty sure that he applied that to everything he did and everyone he met.

When Face opened his mouth like he was about to say something, B.A. stared at him hard, daring him to do it. Daring him to say anything that wasn't directly related to what they were going to be doing in six hours.

Then Hannibal turned around and launched into the plan without missing a beat, as though everything that he saw in front of him was normal. And, B.A. figured, starting right then, it was.

THE END