Author Note: I actually have no idea from whereabouts in the dark recesses of my mind this fic came from. For that, I can only shrug and blame my slash monster.
"We are all a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love"
"I don't like standard beauty-there is no beauty without strangeness"
Eye of The Beholder
It's been brewing for a while, a culmination of natural doubt and personal insecurity. The situation of being in love has never made sense to him, but then again most things don't. The self-check system at supermarkets confuse him, and he might be able to calculate air velocity and drag in his head, but when it comes to figuring out the trivial ways of how normal people act in social situations, he is usually at a loss. Rules like how he shouldn't burst into songs from the soundtrack of 'Mamma Mia!' in crowded places, or how not to try to spice up the flavour to people's meals by offering them some 'secret sauce'. He's managed to just ignored the lack of understanding in the favour of being happy. He enjoys being happy, as most people do. It gives him a warm feeling in the pit of his chest, a burning light that starts off slowly and raises in heat and height until it's like his whole body is burning. Being happy, and being in love, makes him feel like he could fly.
But like a worm, the doubt has been niggling in his gut, burrowing and gnawing at his subconscious when the world is too quiet for him to push it out. He tells them to shut up, both in his head and aloud, but for the sake of his withered sanity he pretends that the black spot isn't there, a piratical curse branded onto a piece of parchment. But it comes to a head when Murdock sees Face dancing with their latest target, the conman smartly dressed in a black suit and tie. He is with a woman. A decidedly beautiful woman. She has that air of Italian blood about her, all fiery sensuality as she glides across the polished dance-floor, her hand in Face's. Her eyes are dark, suggestive, and the way she's looking at her dance partner like he's a morsel of food she intends on sampling is enough to get Murdock's jealous hackles raised and alert, a primeval reaction to someone he deems as a threat, and for good reason.
And the sight of Face smiling at her, and laughing with her , is enough to make Murdock turn away, the panic rising in his chest as he chokes in a coffin of black coat tails and white collars. He can't breathe as he watches the woman's eyes on Face, his smile steady. Murdock should be used to this, because dammit, it's a job and they all have their roles to play. But Murdock is seeing the world in a flamingo dance, the whirl of the woman's red ball-gown and Face's smile, Face's smile wide and bright. He should be used to this, knows that panic attacks are part of the parcel-and-package of his ...problems. He knows that they can turn up for no reason, and right now he needs out, needs fresh air. Murdock babbles his excuses to Hannibal and BA , telling them with his frantic hand gestures and the look in his eyes that he needs to get out. Right now. Hannibal asks him quietly if he needs anything, and Murdock knows he means the small box of emergency pills that they've gotten from an old friend of Hannibal's; a contingency plan just in case Murdock can't handle his demons on his own. They'll calm him down, let him think, but Murdock doesn't want to do either at the moment, and he's had a lifetime of taking pills to fix things. He'll sit this one out without any chemical reliance.
Murdock practically runs out of the dance hall, and the dark outside is a sharp juxtaposition against the shining yellow glaze of the inside. The dark is comfortable. He can deal with the dark. Slowly, his breathing slows, the white spirals of fog from his mouth lessening in their intensity. But the doubt has come to the fore now, placed itself right in his line of sight. And he can't stop looking at it, can't stop thinking about it. He feels slightly sick, a nausea in his chest that attracts his attention for a while. It can't block out the raging thoughts however, and he can't help but listen to them, trapped in a one-sided argument that he'll lose whichever side wins.
He stays out in the cold till the rest of them join him, Hannibal's plan complete to get information for their latest pro-bono case, Face's charms being the help they needed. The rest of them are smiling, and he tries to smile back. His hands are shaking, although whether it's from the freezing temperature out here or the thoughts whirling round his head like snowflakes he isn't sure.
On the way back to their temporary camp in a shitty motel, Murdock doesn't speak a word, just stares out of the van window as though he's trying to burn a hole in the glass. Hannibal asks him if he's ok, and he just nods. The conversation dies after that, and he blurs out of the others talking- missing the concerned looks from Face, the shared look between BA and Hannibal. He looks past his own reflection to the world outside, and tries to lose himself in the dark.
When he gets back to his room, he lets it all out. He tears the dinner jacket off his back with scrabbling fingers yanking at the buttons to undo them, ripping half of them from their moorings in his hurry so that they skitter like black button beetles to the floor. He throws the offending item down, allowing his tie to follow as it is snatched and rent from around his throat . He never liked that tie, and he's sure it never liked him by the way it was choking him all night. His breathing isn't seeing any improvement; he's smothering in panic as he tries to wrestle off his clothes, and drawing air in and out isn't seeming to work as far as he is concerned. And all he can think about is that beautiful woman.
In his imagination, her true figure warps and becomes heightened. Whoever she was, whatever her name, whether she was kind and nice to everybody, all his forgotten as his mind demonises her; that red dress the colour of fire that's reflected in her eyes. Everything about her is perfect, her smooth skin and smouldering look, just everything is perfect, and he wants to scratch the image out of his mind, tear it down and watch it burn in it's own flames. Because he's not beautiful. Not handsome. And he never will be. His breathing stops, then slows. He can never be like that woman, and that's why he hates her- not her but the image of her, what she represents- with such ferocity. What she stands for is everything he isn't.
And he wonders why the hell Face would see anything in a guy like him. Why he would look twice at someone like him. A mad man; man not woman. The ugly duckling with webbed feet compared to a graceful swan, and no, he isn't ever going to grow up into something he's not. He doesn't wear expensive clothes with posh Italian names , doesn't have a pleasing shade to his eyes that people can write poetry about. Shall I compare thee to a summers day, and all that shit that doesn't mean a thing in real life. His hair is always unkempt whether he brushes it or not, sticking up at odd angles underneath his cap, and despite the Ranger muscles and build, he's lanky. Legs too long, arms too gangly, his features too thin to be anything on the front of a GQ mag. In the air, he's elegant, in his element with the birds and the clouds behind the controls of an airborne vehicle, but on the ground, he's awkward, a square peg in a round hole.
He doesn't know what anyone would see in him.
Face comes into the room quietly, sliding into the room with barely a sound like Murdock guessed he would at some point. He can see Face take in the abused jacket and tie thrown to the floor, can only guess at his expression as he has his back to him. Murdock wants to tell him to go, except he can't voice the words. He doesn't know what to say, never knows what to say around Face . He trips over his tongue with his clumsy words, and in his attempt to sound natural and normal- but since when was he ever going to achieve that?- he just ends up appearing a bit more mad. Which isn't much of a change if he's honest.
"You ok, HM?"
"First rate peachy, Facey!" His voice is strained and Face can damn well tell it, can read Murdock like a book, understand him like they're both speaking the same unintelligible language. Face can always tell when he's lying, and the sincere expression on his face lets Murdock know that his partner knows exactly what's got him so bothered.
"It wasn't about that woman was it?" Face sighs, like he was expecting that to be the reason "Because you know it was just the job, HM, yeah? It wasn't real"
"I know that Facey" Murdock mutters the words in a low voice. He knows how good Face is at pretending and tries not to think about how Face could be pretending with him right now and he wouldn't know the difference. Face could be lying to his face right now and Murdock would never know. He wouldn't blame him, wouldn't be angry if Face slipped out tonight to find himself in the arms of that dancing woman. Murdock would take every excuse and nod even if he knew exactly what Face would be doing, even if it would be breaking his heart every moment he knew Face was with her. But he wouldn't be able to bring himself to blame him. Because why wouldn't Face chose her- whether this red dressed woman or some other female that took his fancy- over him? He turns round to look at his partner "It's just... just I suddenly wondered what it is you see in me"
Face frowns, like he doesn't understand. But he must understand, Murdock thinks. He knows the choices he could have instead of the pilot. "What do you mean?"
Murdock throws his hands through his hair in exasperation, carding them harshly, pulling at the roots. Needs something in his hands to fidget with, but Hannibal wouldn't let him wear his cap with his suit, said it clashed. Maybe he had a point, but Murdock's regretting his decision of leaving it off to appease the Colonel. "I mean , why would'ya chose me?" He looks Face dead of in the eye. There is no self pity in his expression, only honesty. He's been twisting these threads of thought around the spool in his mind for too long to not believe in what he's saying. And even though he half thinks to himself that this is just a moment, where another Murdock has taken over the controls, and that this will pass and he'll be back to his usual self where he'll just be in love and that will be all there is to it, right now the thoughts are all encompassing, drowning him. " There ain't no reason to it. An' you're all 'bout reason. All those little traits in somebody that slot into exactly the right boxes. Good-looking, check- Charming, check- Funny, check, and hey presto, you've got the perfect partner, someone like Sosa or Swan-woman or someone like that" His thoughts are getting all mixed up, knotted as he tries to unwind them, but he keeps going, too caught up to stop " 'Cept I ain't any of those things. Hell, I ain't even sane. RM 8, Psych ward, that's me muchacho, so why would you ever chose me? Over some... some graceful stick thin, proportional mannequin of a woman who could give you the whole 2.5 kids, house with two cars and a white picket fence." He pauses, doesn't look at Face, doesn't want to see the expression there "Why wouldn't you want that …. why wouldn't you take that over the nothing that I have to give you " Another sad pause, and his tone turns melancholy "I'm not even stable Faceman. Why would you ever chose that over some other beautiful person?"
Face is quiet for a moment, moving over to Murdock with slow steps. The pilot lets him get closer, is too wound up to care. He can't push him away, even if it's less selfish to let him go and find someone else. And the only thing he can think apart from the hurricane of doubt in his head, is how handsome Face looks right at this moment; his dinner jacket and tie accentuating his figure, white shirt clinging enough to see the raises of his muscles. Murdock can see why any women (or man, in his case) could be attracted to him.
Face's hands reach up to rub his thumbs over the collar of Murdock's shirt. He's close to Murdock, standing right in front of him, and it's only slightly clearer who is taller out of the two of them.
"You wanna know why?" Face's eyes soften, and Murdock listens to every word coming out of that mouth; lips he's kissed, lips he's heard speak the most beautiful poetry, fashion the most believable lies " Want to know why I'm here, instead of trying to sneak out into some other woman's bed? You are beautiful, Murdock. Every damn bit of you." He pauses and smiles "And I'm going to tell you about all of them"
"Stop it, Facey..." Murdock starts, because he can't hear this, because when Face eventually leaves him it'll only hurt more . But Face holds a finger to his lips, shushes him into silence.
"You wanted to know, so I'm gonna tell you. " he says, but his words aren't harsh. They're soft, and his tone has dropped to a gentle whisper "Your eyes, HM. They aren't anything anyone would notice, but you know what? I do. Every day. Have you ever looked at them? Really looked? That colour you complain 'bout being a dulled greeny blue is so much more than that. When you smile, it brightens, and the blue streaks, they stand out, you know? Like the shade of the sky. And when you get all excitable, they sorta sparkle, like you got stars stuck in them"
His hand moves up, touches the side of Murdock's face, and Murdock has heard him speak poetry before, to marks he's been scamming and to women he's tried to chat up in bars. It's never been like that with the two of them. That's not to say there was no romance. There were touches and words of affection , soft subtle kisses when no-one else was looking but lines were drawn at things that weren't necessary. Murdock had never cared for flowers or chocolates because let's be honest, with the combined forces of their on-the-run lifestyle and Murdock's natural affinity towards the more eccentric items for a man of his age, Murdock would be happier with a model helicopter or one of his beloved comics than a bedraggled rose purchased from a gas station. Neither of them ever do anything like this. Which it's why it's so strange to hear the words that are tumbling out of Face's mouth. "It's your lips, HM." Face continues on, and Murdock can help but listen, take in every word and move some way towards believing in it "Always pulled up in a smile, like none of the bad stuff that goes down in out lives even rubs off on you. And when you're concentrating really seriously, when you're flying or thinking hard, you frown and your lips turn downwards and every time I see it, I want to kiss you until they're smiling again"
He motions closer against him, their bodies almost touching now. Face whispers into his ear, making Murdock have all the wrong reactions in all the right places.
"It's the way you speak" Face's breath haunts a whisper in his ear, softly, seductively, and although Murdock is thinking off how Hannibal or BA could come in right at this moment because they didn't think to lock the door before starting this conversation, he can't bring himself to pull away. His mind isn't really thinking about anything right now but what Face is saying, how close he is to him. "Like when you sing whatever chance you get, and maybe you don't have the best voice in the world, but you sing the words like you mean them, like you've lived through every word you're voicing aloud." His voice gets lower "How you say my name, how you call me 'Temp' and whisper it when it's just us..."
Murdock can sense this conversation rapidly going into the sensual territory, which it always does with Face. The two generally go together, yet it doesn't make what he's saying any less valued.
He feels Face's lips move down from his ear, trailing the column of his neck "It's you" A hand slides over his sides, sculpting his waist down to rest on his hips "Just... everything about you HM" His teeth nip the skin of his neck, makes Murdock whimper "Your laugh and your crazy and the way you make me feel like I'm the most important thing in the world"
Face extracts his mouth from it's position teasing the skin of Murdock's throat, looks up at Murdock seriously. Those blue eyes of his are earnest, and Murdock can't turn his gaze away.
"Don't say you aren't worth it, HM. Because I'd always choose you. I don't want some beautiful woman, the whole perfect domestic arrangement. I want you. Just you. Because a million things make you special to me, and half of them I can't put into words. And even though I've got all those other reasons, the most important one is because I love you. And I wouldn't give a damn if you were any less what you are now." He smiles, and Murdock's world gets an added layer of light "You'd still be you and that's all that matters"
And then Face kisses him, and its heartfelt and searing and Murdock's revelling in the heat as he burns. The world narrows and there's no worry now, no fear, only the soft gentle knowledge that Face loves him no matter what, even if he isn't a prince charming or even a beautiful partner on the dance floor.
He's beautiful to Facey.
He doesn't know how long he stands there, pressing into the kiss with a need that surprises him, a happiness that comes from being in love and being loved in return. And if it's always going to be like this, then he wants to live an eternity so he can experience it all.
The conman pulls back out from the kiss, lips swollen slightly red, and there's a smirk in his eyes. He slides away, and Murdock thinks he's going to leave, before he watches as Face locks the door with a click and returns back to his original position, one of his arms snaking around Murdock's waist.
"Now, why don't you let me show you another couple of things I love about you?" Murdock understands the question, and the hand slipping under his shirt to caress his chest leaves the pilot in no doubt what he's getting at. He smiles back as he captures Face's lips again, the scorching heat burning out all the unwanted thoughts, leaving just this; him and Face and nothing else.
His answer is definitely a yes.