Author Note: You might not believe me, but this fic started out as a short little oneshot that just grew out of control. It's since taken over anything else I was in the process of writing, so I hope you guys like it. If you've seen WALL.E, you'll get a lot of the in-jokes and references, but it's not essential. If you've seen a Pixar/Disney movie, you'll get the progression of the plot. :-)
Prompt from the LJ A_Team_Kink (courtesy of conanxcolbert): "What if Murdock was WALL-E trying to get with the amazingly beautiful EVE (aka Face)"
Pairings: Progressive tilt to Face/Murdock.
An Umbrella in Spite of the Thunder : A Love Story in Four Stages
Carrying The Torch
Face didn't question it much when Murdock started saying his name in a robotic fashion. It was clear he'd tried very hard with the impression; the first syllable of his name high and lengthened, the second drawn out just as much just an octave lower, and Face had had to smile when Murdock looked immediately pleased that he'd managed it, a grin creeping across his face and camping there for the remainder of the day. He'd wasn't really bothered with Murdock's usual original brand of insanity, and had witnessed the pilot going through stranger phases of role-play and personality pass-the-parcel, spending whole days humouring the pilot when he was pretending to be a pirate, or Victorian adventurer, or a ninja, or even a Pokemon master on one occasion. It was just a part of the whole Murdock that Face had learnt to cope with (and often , he enjoyed joining in with Murdock's antics, even when Hannibal had rolled his eyes at the two when he caught them sword fighting, BA groaning and telling Face, not to encourage the 'crazy fool') So when the character switch of the week happened to be a representation of a yellow miniature robot from a certain Pixar film, Face was content enough and used the pilot's quirks by now to be able to put up with the captain going "Murrr-dockkkk!", in that tone that Face knew he'd be sick of eventually.
It was his own fault really. He was the one who had promised Murdock a DVD night, the four of them not having a break for too long. The CIA and the new Lynch had been getting close on their tail,too close for their liking, and every night it had been a new city they fell asleep in, early starts treading the dawn and stopping only when they were all too tired to stay awake at the wheel of the GMC despite catnips in the passenger seat. It got to the point where everyone was at snapping point; Hannibal had been smoking more, Murdock getting more manic the less hours he slept, BA snapping at everything that pissed him off (usually Murdock), and even Face was beginning to lose what little patience he possessed as sleepless nights and days fraught with stress and worry slowly got to him. Finally though, they'd' lost the CIA halfway across Kansas, and now they had time to breathe, Hannibal suggested they all had some time off. When things died down a bit, they'd be able to move around a bit, and the four of them might be able to have a little bit of alone time (BA would probably go visit his mother, Hannibal might take off to god-knows-where for the day on one of his secret little projects, and Face would probably hang around with Murdock (neither of them had family they could visit, so they usually just stuck together), and they might go to a bar one night so Face could try and pull a pretty woman for the night. Right now though, time off was strictly limited to staying together and laying low.
And time-off, for Murdock, was a film night. They couldn't go to the cinema (part of the whole 'laying low' spiel), and Hannibal didn't want anyone to have any unnecessary contact with people who could identify them, at least until he was sure the CIA were off their backs. So, it had been a film that they had chosen quickly from an open-all-hours rental store, and while BA had groaned at the pilot's film choice and had retreated into the next room with Hannibal to watch something more suited to his tastes,namely something with a lot of CG explosions and ass-kicking fight scenes between actors that looked like they were on steroids, Face had had little issue with sitting on the two seater couch in their motel room, watching something that was effectively a children's film on the small TV screen (he hadn't had time to blag a plasma) with Murdock snuggled up beside him. By now, he'd got so used to Murdock's childlike attributes revealing themselves that he didn't mind so much , even when it resulted in his personal space being invaded. When a film was exciting, Murdock would be practically bouncing off his seat with glee adorning his features, if it was frightening or overly violent, Murdock would try and hide his eyes away in Face's shirt (and they'd all learned the hard way when they'd watched Lethal Weapon together and the scenes of electrocution had turned the pilot pale and trembling for reason's none of them could understand, and he'd had nightmares he wouldn't talk about for weeks, sliding into Face's bed at obscene hours of the morning so that he wouldn't be alone) . When it came to just the general viewing of films however, the pilot had a knack of folding his body in the niche between Face's shoulder and torso so that Face had little choice than to move his arm around Murdock to allow them both to be more comfortable (At least that was what Face told himself, yet a secret, mostly ignored part of him quite liked it when the pilot settled down against him, although he'd vehemently deny it when he called himself up on the fact)
So, when Murdock attached himself with vigour to the character of WALL.E, singing the tunes of Hello Dolly and making enough robot noises to irritate BA, Face knew he shouldn't really be surprised. It was how Murdock did things in his unique little world, and Face couldn't judge him for enjoying something that had cost so little to provide. Hannibal had his cigars, BA letters from his mother and his GMC, even Face had his women when he could get them, but Murdock had no other release other than to act a bit more crazy. And if putting up with only one personality shift instead of ten was enough to keep everyone relatively happy, Face couldn't complain.
What Face didn't realise however, was how strongly Murdock had taken one certain aspect of the film to heart.
To Murdock, films always mirrored real life. It was probably part of the package of his mental issues, the habit he got into of getting too caught up in the supposed reality of someone else's pretend world. It felt real to him,the emotions felt real, and he tied into that all too easily. In the VA in Mannheim, Germany he distinctly remembered on film-related incident that had the doctors trying to tranquillise him (they'd had to catch him first, he wasn't exactly going to make it easy for them) for challenging orderlies on the corridors with a foam sword, stating loudly and triumphantly; " My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die", before switching film and genre entirely and running at his unsuspecting victims, bellowing a Comanche war cry, something which Murdock had noticed people hadn't liked. Nonetheless, it was his belief that if something could happen in films, nine times out of ten it could probably happen in real life (unless it involved magic, superpowers, dragons or all of the above, because while Murdock was firmly convinced they all existed, he had yet to come across them)
Which was why Murdock had latched onto the love story between WALL.E and EVE with reaffirmed hope in his heart, a smile on his face and a plan in his head. Because if WALL.E, a damaged, slightly crazy robot could end up with a smoother, more attractive model like EVE, why couldn't Murdock- a damaged, definitely crazy pilot- end up with a smoother, more attractive Face? In every romantic film he had ever seen, love had been able to triumph over every adversity, braving death, disgrace and unwanted betrothals to other men (although Murdock had never really had that issue) to end up with the guy getting his girl (there of course was a bit of a technical issue there, what with Face not actually being a woman, but Murdock was confident that if love could bring people back from the brink of death- kiss of life, and so on- it could definitely hop over and disregard any gender barrier while the universe wasn't looking.)
And so began his plan of action. Murdock, by his own admission, wasn't a planner. Like BA, he was a lot more impulsive than say Hannibal or Face, and when he went barging into things he didn't really think of the consequences until he nearly got shot again for the nth time. It was usually Face who had to hold him back, talking him out of whatever scheme he'd latched onto, and if that didn't work Hannibal's calming brogue did the trick. But the fact that the pilot didn't possess that particular skill wasn't going to stop him, and his (extremely clever , he thought) idea, was to merely try and emulate what WALL.E had done for EVE, in the hope that Face -like EVE- would realize how much he (she) meant to the pilot (robot) .
Murdock considered himself to share many traits with WALL.E, considering one of them was a Gulf war pilot and the other was an animated robot from the future and this was going to be invaluable as a resource for what was to come. Because the more Murdock was like WALL.E, the more his plan could follow along the strange lines. Murdock, like WALL.E, was in love with someone hopelessly out of his league. Face was everything Murdock wasn't; strong, attractive, sane, and if Murdock had possessed a little more realism he would have figured by now that there was no way that Face would ever see anything than friendship in Murdock. But Murdock gladly didn't- which went some way to explaining the sock puppets, varying accents and napalmed steak-and so saw no reason not to at least try to get Face to see him that way.
Also, like WALL.E, Murdock knew the words to every song in 'Hello Dolly!'. With this in mind, he couldn't possibly fail.
So, quietly and without much fuss, Murdock tried to woo Face .It was not, he soon discovered, without its difficulties.
"We're no strang-ers to lo-o-ve, you know the rules, and so do iiiiii,"
Face opened his eyes to the sound of badly sung 80's pop, and wondered what the hell he could possibly have done to have deserved this. He couldn't not find out what the hell that was and raised his head slightly from where it had been quite comfortably lying against the warm side of the pillow, squinting through the darkness of the room to sight the offender who had woken him.
It hadn't been too hard to guess it would be Murdock.
"Murdock?" Face's voice was groggy, and he wondered whether he was just still dreaming. It wouldn't have surprised him, but it would have been a bad sign if Murdock was managing to infiltrate into his subconscious irritation as well as being the waking bane of his existence. OK, maybe that was a bit harsh. He loved Murdock like crazy (brotherly love, he reminded himself, brotherly) , it was just sometimes Murdock chose to launch his games at the most inappropriate times. Like now, for instance. From what Face could see, Murdock was very much awake- and painfully more chipper than he should be at god-knows what hour of the morning, the pilot sitting on the bed across from him, singing Rick Astley in an unfortunately loud and assured voice, that would probably be waking BA and Hannibal unless Face could shut him up. A pissed BA was not what any of them needed, whatever hour of the morning. "What are you doing?"
"I'm serenading you" Murdock replied, frowning as though it was obvious. He didn't look put out however, and continued on as though no question had been asked, oblivious to the glowering look Face was giving him.
The conman sighed, wanting to bury his head under his pillow or strangle the singing man, whichever got him back to sleep faster. It was too early for this shit.
"Murdock," he said slowly, trying to remain calm as he looked up at the pilot. A tired Face was a cranky Face, and if he snapped at Murdock the guilt would be enough to keep him awake until he'd finally apologised with placations of playing Frisbee with Billy in the morning or whatever came to mind to stop the pilot being saddened. For some reason, Face couldn't stand to know he'd upset Murdock for long, no matter what the pilot had done to deserve it. Murdock was just Murdock, even if Face wished one of his multiple personalities could be sensible and aware of social graces such as not singing when he was trying to sleep "Would you mind singing a little quieter?" He groaned as a line of "Never go-onna give you up, ne-ver go-onna let you do-o-own..." reached his ears "And possibly another song? Rick Astley gives me a migraine"
He pressed his head back down to the pillow, savouring the fading heat, hoping Murdock had got the subtle request to be quiet and let him sleep. The guy must know what time it was. Face didn't even want to know. It felt late, that was all that mattered to him.
A few moments passed and Face felt confident Murdock had settled down for the night. He really shouldn't have.
"I could stay awake, just to he-ar you bre-eathing..."
Face made a whimpering sound into his pillow, half way between a growl and a cry. He should have known. He hit his head against the pillow, trying to will himself into unconsciousness. It didn't work. And the worst thing was that Murdock had done everything he had asked, down to a T. The singing was quieter, more the volume of a lullaby than a serenade (and at least there was no danger of waking Hannibal and BA, not unless they heard Murdock's choked screams as Face strangled him) and dare Face say it, a little more tuneful to boot. Murdock might have had a moderately successful career in karaoke singing if Face wasn't going to kill him right now.
Murdock hadn't heard his groan, so caught up in getting the words right , and by the time Face had tuned back into the noise in his ears, the pilot was starting the chorus , keeping the volume quiet while doing a pitch perfect impression of Steve Tyler's singing.
"Don't wan-na clo-o-se my eye-e-es... Don't wan-na fal-l-l asleep cause I'd miss you bab-b-y..."
"Murdock" His tone was pleading now, "Please, just shut up ok? Let me sleep"
The pilot quietened immediately, and Face paused before he sighed, knowing he'd messed up some part of whatever grand game Murdock was playing at obscene hours of the morning. It must have been important to Murdock, for some wacky reason or another, and even though sleep was trying to get him with welcoming hands, Face knew he'd have to say something by way of an apology. Because dammit, he just knew Murdock would have that look on his face. The kicked-puppy look. The look that Face couldn't say no to.
"Tell you what," he mumbled "Why don't you sing to me tomorrow? It's just that I'm really tired now, and I can't... properly appreciate what you're trying to get across in your music"
"OK, Faceman" Murdock sounded appeased with the idea, the smile evident in his tone, and Face settled down back to sleep, wrapping his arms round his pillow and falling quickly into a dreamless black, glad he'd managed to get Murdock quiet for the moment.
He wasn't so pleased in the morning, when he was awoken by a certain soon-to-be-dead pilot serenading him with Enrique Iglesias (with guitar accompaniment), but then again, he couldn't have everything.
"So , will I be seeing you tonight?" Sosa asked coyly on the other end of the mobile link . Her voice was pitched just right, sultry and low , making suggestions with her voice that she didn't make clear through words. Yet, possibly for the first time ever, when faced with the suggestion of having a good time with a beautiful woman (and he got suggested to, quite a lot, especially when charming people came as part of his non-existent job description), Face paused, an answer not immediately forthcoming from the dark recesses of his brain and subsequent speech capabilities.
And that was curious in itself, because usually when the team's travels brought them near to where the captain was staying, Face would usually take time away to go visit Charisa, while Hannibal sorted out the next big plan, BA messed around with his beloved GMC, and Murdock... well Murdock just acted like Murdock. It wasn't as though he and Sosa were dating again or anything as serious as that, and for a moment Face wondered why she did want him there. Or, more importantly, why he actually wanted to go in the first place. She was the one who had called it off, who- when given the choice between him and her career- had grabbed the latter with both hands and without hesitation. So why was he going to answer her heeds like he was some sort of dog she could call over whenever she wanted?
His thoughts jumped over to the bitter brigade for a second, and it was hard even after all this time dealing with the break-up to draw them back. They wouldn't even really do much- dinner at a black-tie only restaurant, small talk while avoiding the big topics (her knowledge of the CIA's movements to catch his team, and his knowledge of what they'd been doing and where they'd be heading next), the usual banter while the sexual tension simmered, and then it would be back to hers for some quick, frantic, but undoubtedly satisfying sex. At least Face thought it was, but it had been so long now that any sex would be good for his starved libido.
There was a yes on his lips now at the thought of sex (because sometimes, Face could be extremely shallow when he wanted to be, and now felt like the time to be shallow) , but a thought held him back from answering. Was that all he wanted? A predictable dinner, talking about everything but the things that mattered to him, sex that would give him some release but wouldn't actually fulfil him in any way? Maybe they'd talk about 'them', if there was a 'them' at all, and not just a 'you' and 'me', but they'd probably ignore that as well.
Face had an entire night off from missions and plans and near-death-experiences, a night he wanted to spend with someone he cared about, but did that mean he really wanted to spend it with Sosa?
A knock at the door made him turn around. Murdock was there, a small shy smile on his face. When he saw the phone , his smile faltered slightly, like he had wanted to talk to Face alone, hadn't been expecting company in any form. The mask went back up however- quickly like the opening and shutting of a door-, just like it always did, and the smile returned, although a little less intense than it had been before.
"I can come back..." the pilot started, looking back at the door he'd just come through as though offering to leave, southern accent low and quiet. Face shook his head, waving a hand to gesture to Murdock inside the room.
"Hold on a minute, Charisa," he said down the phone, then moved the mobile away from his ear, covering the mouthpiece with his hand so that none of their conversation would be heard on the other end.
"What's up, HM?" he asked, looking at the pilot, wondering idly whether it was an offer for another sock-puppet fight, or even a Scalextric war on the tracks that they'd found in the loft of the safe-house they were in (this idea was slightly more attractive, possibly because Face was a complete master of miniature car racing, and had so far had beaten Murdock and Hannibal hands down, BA being the only other member of the team representing a challenge. Of course, BA had passed the whole thing off as childish and immature, but when Murdock had handed him the joystick for an orange Dodge Charger, it hadn't taken him long to get into the spirit of things)
Murdock however, looked at the phone. There was a frown on his face.
Face found himself wanting to laugh at the question, and grinned at the pilot despite the seriousness of which the question was asked. The expression on Murdock's face was one of dislike, and although it was hidden carefully under layers of pretence, Face knew how to read the pilot by now to know when he didn't like somebody. The pilot, to his credit, could get on with pretty much everybody ( it usually being other people who didn't warm to him because of his unusual actions), and Murdock had put up with Sosa in Iraq for Face's sake when the two of them had been dating, but the two captains had never really gotten on. Murdock had tried to warm to her, but the fact that she had attempted to monopolise Face in terms of affections made him irritated and lonely, because Face was his friend as well, and not a pet she could just keep by her side. While Hannibal and BA had just considered Sosa a phase that Face would grow out of, Murdock hadn't liked how the team sometimes came second when Charisa got involved, and had been vocal about it to Face as he usually was about things. Sosa, on the other hand, had never really accepted Murdock's... quirky attributes, having little patience for offers of lightsaber fights and games of Jenga or Snakes and Ladders from a man she considered to be unfit to serve in the army.
The dislike had only become more concentrated when Murdock had found burning her wardrobe a suitable revenge tactic when she had hurt Face by dumping him so callously (It had been Murdock, Face remembered, along with Hannibal and BA, that had listened to his rants, who had tried to rouse him from his black moods, Murdock who had pulled him away from the bar when Face had been trying to drink to forget, the conman lashing out in a drunken anger, and in the morning when the area Face had managed to hit under his eye turned purple, Murdock had been the first to wave it off and forgive him). It turned out Dolce & Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent burned pretty well when set alight, and Face distinctly recalled Sosa screaming quite loudly at the pilot , threatening to get him sectioned for what he'd done (the charge, he thought, went something along the lines of 'wilful destruction , and putting other members of the base at high-risk of fire hazards') It had taken all of Face's considerable conning skills to get the top brass to drop the charges, because he'd known Murdock enough to know that he had done it for the sole reason that Sosa had hurt Face- one of his team, his adoptive family- , and there was no way Face was gonna let them take Murdock back to some backwater VA to be dosed up with drugs and shot through with electrics. Face had to admit though, in a small vindictive way, it had been worth the effort he'd expended on Murdock's behalf , just to stand at the side of the miniature bonfire of clothes and wood (turned out the pilot had been quite literal when he'd gone about burning her wardrobe, the furniture pieces itself having been added to the pile), burning orange and red, with Murdock by his side, chanting and offering the clothes as a 'sacrifice to the gods of Olympus'
"Yeah" Face replied in answer, and Murdock shuffled his feet, looking at the white toes caps of his high-tops before returning his gaze to Face.
"I was just wondering... if you maybe wanted a movie night?" The pilot held up the DVD's he had been holding behind his back, quietly hoping Face would say yes. It was part of his grand scheme after all ( although Face didn't know it), and Murdock had worked hard to con the popcorn , sweet bags, and pepsi bottles they had needed for a proper film night. Luckily, Murdock could be as good an actor as Face or Hannibal when he wanted, and although Murdock didn't have Face's looks or charisma, he did remember how to pull off a good con- having often worked with Face- and he also possessed a disarming grin that he'd make people trust him more before he scammed the required items from them. "You can choose the film. I got the sweet popcorn you like and everything"
Face looked at the three DVD's in the pilot's hand, wondering why on earth Murdock had chosen such a painfully romantic selection of films. 'Hello Dolly!', 'The Princess Bride' and 'When Harry met Sally' weren't Face's usual cup of tea, but he smiled at the pilot anyway. A DVD night with Murdock may not be a romantic evening with a beautiful woman, but it seemed to appeal to him more tonight. Murdock undoubtedly, would be more effort than Sosa, and Face would have to put up with Murdock lip-syncing with the film of choice, hogging the popcorn or even just using it as ammo to aim at Face if a boring scene showed up, and the pilot's limpet-like qualities when it came to sitting next to someone on a sofa (and Face just knew that some time in the course of the film Murdock would start using him as some sort of human pillow). But Face didn't mind. He never really minded.
"Get the DVD set up," he said, and Murdock's grin was so sudden and joyful, it took him by surprise "Your choice for first pick. I'll just be a sec, ok?" He gestured to the phone, but even the reminder of Sosa didn't dampen Murdock's spirits. The pilot nodded, practically scampering out of the room in his eagerness, and Face had time to give a bemused but fond shake of his head before he removed his hand from the phone's mouthpiece.
"Yeah, Charisa?" he said, wondering how long he'd kept her waiting, but not giving much chase to the thought. For the moment, it didn't really matter "I'm gonna have to pass on that offer. Something else came up" Face hadn't even thought about how strange this situation must look from the outside- Templeton Peck, passing an offer of sex with a beautiful woman just so he could spend time watching romantic films with a heterosexual male pilot (at least Face thought he was, he'd never actually seen Murdock with any sort of partner, male or female) who would no doubt chatter to Face all the way through the films (unless it was the Princess Bride. That was a film Murdock practically knew the script to), making Face giggle like an immature kid in the back row of the cinema with a bunch of mates, spurting coke though his nose because he was laughing so violently and laughing even harder after that.. But for some reason, it didn't feel strange to Face. He was spending time with someone he cared about, and it didn't have to be a lover or romantic attachment like Sosa, but could really just be someone like Murdock, a close friend that Face had never had before he met the crazy pilot.
"Oh," Sosa sounded put out and a little bit surprised, as though she hadn't expected him to decline her proposal. It wasn't like Face had a good track record for ever being distracted from matters of a female persuasion. Not usually when it had anything to do with Sosa. "OK, then. Another time maybe?"
"Maybe" Face said non-committally, and he was intrigued at how uninterested his voice sounded. He'd never sounded this way with her, as far as he could remember. Passionate, loving, even angry, but never uninterested. Maybe he was finally getting over her? His mind wasn't even on Sosa right now, it was on Murdock, and he'd rather be off the phone and eating popcorn right now than tying up his goodbyes "Got to go now, speak to you soon ok?"
"All right..." Face's goodbye was rushed and both of them knew it. It was clear by Sosa's tone. Usually he was trying to stay on the phone for as long as he could, but today he was speeding it along, trying to get her off, and the sudden change in the norm had put her off.
Murdock's shout came from the other room "Come on, Facey. I'm all ready for ya"
"Is that Murdock?" Charisa's words were icy, and the way she said Murdock's name was one step away from titling him 'that lunatic pilot'. Face bristled at the tone, wanting to defend Murdock against anything she might say (and more than once his closeness and quick defence of the pilot were the starter for one of their arguments) , but curiously there was a more shocked hint to her voice, like she'd just heard something she completely hadn't expected "Is Murdock there?"
"Yes..." Face replied, and he wasn't going to deny he was a bit confused. "Why?"
"You and Murdock?"
"What's your problem with that?"
"Nothing..." Sosa said hurriedly, and Face felt like he was missing something. A big something. And he didn't like it "Just that I didn't think you were... into that sort of thing. Not with a guy like him"
The metaphorical pieces clicked, Face wanting to let out a groan as it hit him. From what Murdock had shouted, Sosa had immediately jumped to the conclusion that he and the pilot were... otherwise engaged doing other things ,or about to be. She'd probably already thought that he was turning her down for a better offer , and when she'd heard Murdock in the background, she'd put the wrong pieces in the jigsaw. What surprised Face more however, was the fact that he was more upset about her last comment than the suggestion that he was gay and having sex with a man who was effectively his best friend.
"What do you mean 'a guy like him'?"
Sosa must have heard the anger in his tone, but she responded in turn, defensive to the last, possibly though jealousy or just because he'd snapped at her, Face couldn't tell. "Nothing bad, just that... you know... he's got real problems... messed up, that sorta thing. I would have thought you'd have gone for someone who acts less like a... a circus freak "
Face tried to stay calm, but it was hard, considering what he'd just heard. He wanted to shout but that'd mean she'd effectively won, and he didn't want Murdock to hear in the other room. It was obvious that he was really looking forward to tonight, and Face didn't want Sosa's comments to mess that up. "Not that it's any of your goddamn business," he growled back down the phone, keeping his voice low "but if I was with Murdock,- which I'm not, but if I was- I wouldn't care about any of that. None of it. He might act a bit crazy yeah, but we all do in our own little way. And yeah, he's different, but he's genuine and funny and kind and if that makes him a... a freak, then I'd rather go with him than someone like you any day"
" I'm sorry, Face" Sosa was trying to backtrack what she was saying, "I didn't mean it like that..." In his irritation, Face was having none of it.
"Save it, Sosa" he said, and hung up. For a second he just stood there, phone still in his hand, trying to get his anger under control. He didn't know what he was more pissed off at, that Sosa had said those things, or that she'd dared to say them about Murdock. But then he heard Murdock's shout of "Come on Face. You'll miss the beginning!" , and he immediately calmed.
All thoughts of Sosa were quickly banished from his mind as he went into the front room, greeted by a gleeful Murdock loudly humming the opening song of 'Hello Dolly!', a large bowl of popcorn nestled between his crossed legs.
"Everything ok?" Murdock asked, looking at Face as he sat down "You took a while"
"Everything fine HM,"Face replied, and he meant it as he felt Murdock settle into him again, Face pulling a handful of popcorn into the bowl "Everything's fine"