"Did you ever hear the story, that happened not long ago
'bout the man with a tan: El diablo de Mexico?
And this man played his hand, and he lived by the luck of the draw;
Now and then and again, found him steppin' outside of the law"
El Diablo: ZZ Top

Author Note: Based mostly on the original series episode 'Family Reunion' (Series 5, Episode 8).Some dialogue has been borrowed, which of course does not belong to me. That's my disclaimer right there.

Summary; Small lies snowball, and Face is angry that Murdock lied to him. But being close as family, he's just as quick to forgive, because it's Murdock. (Family Reunion TV Ep. 'reboot') No slash.


Kindred

Murdock is usually the most smiley person that Face has ever had the fortune to know. Always possessed of a grin- mad or just simply happy- on his face, and it's one of those things that Face has always liked about Murdock. The smiling, the happiness, even when it delves into mania. There's too many sad people in the world, but Murdock loves life like he loves flying dangerously. He delights in living by the edge: seeking out for his next "near-death experience" when it comes to pulling dangerous scams with Face or flying complex dogfights in helicopters with BA unconscious in the back. Half the times he's been out with the team on one of their missions, Face has been surprised when the pilot makes it back unscathed.

He's gotten used to Murdock's natural affinity to living, no matter how often he tangos with death, leading with it at an arm length, carelessly taking it into a spin like it's nothing but child's play, even when his life's on the line if he places a foot wrong. Yet there's always a smile on his face when he returns back alive, a spring in his step and a song not far from being voiced. As though being so close to death, just like he's so close to madness, makes him appreciate reality when the clouds receded again. When he's no longer in danger, when he's no longer lost in the quicksand of his own mind. And as he lives and breathes and tiptoes the edges of sanity, he's got a massive grin on his face, as though he's thankful for another day of it all.

When Murdock comes into the tent that he and Face are sharing however, he definitely isn't smiling. If anything, he appears awful and Face for a second ruminates over how he hasn't noticed that the pilot obviously hasn't been sleeping by the dark bags under his eyes, smudges of dusty charcoal swept over the flesh of his skin. Murdock trails into the enclosed space like he's approaching the scales on judgement day, his eyes downcast and his countenance skittish. He's fidgeting, Face notices, in the same manner he always does when something has occurred that he doesn't want to talk about. He's known Murdock for eight years now, and he is practised enough now to recognise to be concerned when the pilot starts fiddling with his shirt buttons or taking off his cap and agitating it in his hands. It usually spells trouble with a capital T. And Face knows he wont like what Murdock has to say.

"Murdock," Face glances over at the pilot from where he's been standing in the tent, rummaging in a box for some item Hannibal wanted "Wha-...?"

But the conman doesn't have time to finish, as Murdock puts a nervous hand up, a signal for him to be quiet. To let the pilot speak. Murdock's never like this , never so panicky, never looks so...scared. The only other example of this behaviour was after they broke him out of the VA in Mexico; the shaky withdrawal that came with Murdock's sudden lack of pills. Yet, this has nothing to do with that. So Face obliges, a frown creasing his forehead as he wonders what the hell's gotten into his friend. What the hell could be bugging him so.

"Face, I...I got summat ta' tell ya," Murdock's running his hands through his hair again, gnawing upon the skin of his lip , as though the words he's about to speak are words he'd rather stayed right where they were. "I need you to listen, ok?"

Face has always been very good at listening. Hearing people talking about nothing, seeing past the rambling speech of a mark to focus on what's important; what he can use to their advantage. Little details, but that's what he needs to keep a weather eye open for. It's a skill he employs now as Murdock pauses before he spills everything he's evidently been keeping inside for days.

He tells Face about AJ Bancroft, and the computer files he found, the answers he got when he questioned the man about it. How Templeton Peck is really Richard Bancroft by technicality, and how Murdock has known this for a long while before coming to tell Face about it. Those listening skills come in handy, because Face doesn't lose it as Murdock tells him, just listens in a flinty silence as the anger burns inside of him, pebble-dashing the wall of rock he's listening through, consuming everything it can reach but being held back by a tenuous string. Sooner or later, it's going to crash through.

"You bastard" Face whispers the words at first as Murdock finishes telling him, his outpouring of words going from a gush to not even a trickle of sound at a moments notice. The pilot's reaction is like a crab fighting against a wave of greater strength, before crouching down with its pincers raised for fear it'll be struck. In a second that has the duration of eons, Face doesn't want to believe what he's just heard, hopes it's just some stupid joke Murdock's imagined up. But Murdock wouldn't lie to him, not about this. But the worse part of it is, Murdock did. "How... how could you?" Murdock flinches as Face gets louder, the anger boiling up hot and fast in his chest, making his breathing fast. The tenuous string wavers, trembles from the strain. His hands are shaking as he clenches them into fists compulsively, trying to understand. But he can't understand why it has been Murdock has done this to him; Murdock who's always been the honest one, the most open one. The one who never lied.

Murdock glances to a point down on the floor, at the sight of anger in Face's eyes , his face colouring with shame, but some inner part of Murdock must be feeling honourable today, must want to face up to this, because his eyes turn back to look at his friend directly in the eye.

"I didn't...didn't know how ta tell ya, Face" the words stumble out of his mouth, trip over themselves on his tongue. Face can't accept that he's hearing this, and he endeavours to take in everything Murdock has told him. AJ Bancroft, the international criminal who they had been hired to take down , was Face's father. Of course, if the information was true and not falsified by Murdock's understanding or human error, it would be the pilot who would have uncovered it. They'd sent Murdock into Bancroft's officer to hack into his records, see if they could find any loophole through which to bring him down. And through hidden pass codes and broken down firewalls, Murdock had found the information on a personal data file on the man himself. AJ Bancroft. 56. Family: Spouse; Marilyn Taylor (divorced), Tania Mason (divorced), Lucinda Bevan (divorced). But it hadn't been the man's tempestuous marital life which had caught Murdock's gaze, it was the lines beneath that; Son; Richard Bancroft (illegitimate) . Whereabouts: Unknown. And underneath those seemingly innocuous words had been a picture of Face, Murdock's Face, when he was about fourteen, in high school and playing for his soccer team. Young and smiling, some mud streaking almost unnoticed in the dark brown of his hair. Murdock had recognised the picture because Face had one just like it in his personal belongings from the orphanage.

Murdock had known all this. And Murdock hadn't told him.

"Didn't... didn't know?" Face feels faint, and he considers that he might be going to be sick before he realises the nausea is the cold anger twisting in his gut "Murdock, that was my one chance of knowing my father and you didn't know how to tell me?" Face is starting to shout now, and Murdock appears so alone in his own little corner of the tent they're both standing in. Frozen in place, expression unreadable except for the pain in his eyes. Face never shouts at Murdock, always forgives him for anything because he knows it's just how the pilot does things. Every little argument they've ever had, every time the pilot's pushed too far; it's always resolved as quickly as it is born. But Face doesn't know how he can forgive Murdock this.

"He was a bad man, Face..."

"He was still my father!" Face's voice is shouting again, the anger breaking through with a roar, and Murdock flinches with every word directed at him that's filled with so much venom, as though every word is a separate punch that strikes him hard, nearly knocking him to the ground. So much hate is in the words Face is speaking, but the conman doesn't care, doesn't care that BA and Hannibal can probably hear them, doesn't care if even the damn Feds can hear him. He's just so goddamn angry, and if he was ever close to hitting Murdock , it'd be now " and now he's fucking dead Murdock! Did that not enter your thick skull? Because now I can't ever know now why he left, why he never came back..."

"I was gonna tell you..." Murdock tries to say, but Face interrupts, cutting him off with knife-edged phrases. He doesn't want to hear what Murdock has to say, doesn't want to listen to half-baked excuses, because as far as he's concerned, no excuse could ever let Murdock off the hook with this one.

"Yeah, when he was dead?" Face cards a hand through his hair, his hands itching for something to engage with, someone to hit, someone to hurt. "Jesus, Murdock, some fucking friend you are!"

"He might not have been your father Face." Murdock attempts to plead his corner, not wanting to see Face angry, wanting to make what he has spoken aloud a little lighter to bear "The information might have been wrong..."

"What if he was Murdock?" Face practically spits the words out "What if that DNA comes back, and he is? What's your smart idea then? Just hide that from me again huh?"

"Face..." Murdock's voice is quiet, almost scared, but Face snubs his excuses with more of his own anger.

"Shut up, Murdock. I don't want to hear it" Face expels a breath, trying to take this all in, trying to breathe even as the rage builds. He wants to stay calm, hear Murdock out, he really does, but the anger is another entity now, out of his control; lashing and growling at its faint prison for release. It's reached the outer gates now, and Face is only just holding back. "And you know what?" His voice lowers from a shout to an angered whisper, and somehow that hurts Murdock more, hearing the raw pain in Face's voice; the betrayal , the hurt "You were always the one I thought I could really trust. Guess you're just another goddamn liar "

"You can trust me" If Face wasn't so mad he'd see the honesty in Murdock's eyes, the unflinching tone of voice that gave no doubt to the knowledge that Murdock was telling the truth. But in Face's mind, he can't , not any more, not when Murdock has betrayed him like this, lied to him like this.

"You're a goddamn psych case!" The anger bubbles out again, a boiling pot steaming over, and even though Face knows what he is saying is hurting Murdock he doesn't stop. He wants it to hurt, wants Murdock to know how much this treachery has hurt him and deal it back just as hard. "You're barely even there in the head, HM, how the hell can I trust you? You lied to me !You kept it from me!" He pauses, looking straight at Murdock's green eyes, almost expecting the pilot to turn away at the ferocity of the look "I mean, didn't you think it was important?"

"I tried, Facey. I tried to tell you so many times..."

"Well you didn't try hard enough did you?"

"You wouldn't have wanted to know when he was alive" Murdock's voice is quiet, but Face can still hear every word clear as crystal. What Face can't make sense of is how the pilot still can't realise how much he screwed this one up, how the pilot is still trying to form excuses " I could have told you but I didn't. It wouldn't have bin fair on you"

Face laughs humourlessly. "And this is? How do you know what's fair Murdock? Who else knew then, seeing as I seem to be part of a great joke at my expense? Who else'd you tell? BA? Hannibal? Does everyone fucking know but me?"

Murdock flinches."No... no... it's not like that Face"

"Then what is it like Murdock?" Face lashes out again, and somewhere in the back of his mind a voice is telling him to stop this, to walk away and regain some of the control he's lost, but it's gone too far now. The words coming out of his mouth are irascible and blistering, his trauma and upset grasping out to find another victim and setting its sights on Murdock "What the hell am I meant to say? 'Thanks for not telling me about my father until he died'?'" he laughs again, the sound becoming slightly hysterical "Great timing, HM, great timing as per goddamn usual. "

"Look Face..." Murdock wants to speak, but again Face doesn't want to hear it.

"Just get outta here Murdock... Go back to the goddamn VA , I don't care. We should have sent you back there from the beginning, because you need help, Murdock, in your messed up little head. We should have left you there for all the use you've been"

Murdock opens his mouth again, but Face is just sick of it all. The lies, the excuses and he just wants it to end, wants Murdock to recall back what he's told Face because he was doing just fine before the pilot screwed with his life. He knew who he was before Murdock opened his mouth, even though he knew Murdock. And it turns out he didn't know either of them very well at all "I don't want to hear it! I don't want to see you, I don't even want to speak to you.."

"But Face, there's..."

"JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" Face screams the words in a stream of anger, and he doesn't even realise that he's pushed Murdock away, shoved him so hard that the pilot tumbles down hard onto the dirt floor until he's actually trying to get up. He doesn't even question that he's done it, feels no regret, because Murdock, Murdock, didn't tell him, Murdock lied. He feels justified, and for a second just breathes heavily, the adrenaline making his heartbeat race, as he watches Murdock look stunned for a moment. No matter how bad-tempered Face has gotten with Murdock before, it's never been physical; the con-man has never touched him or lashed out. Partly because he's never been that angry before, but also because that- if pushed- Murdock could probably waste him if it came down to real fighting.

But Murdock doesn't react, doesn't respond in turn. He just seems lost for a moment, before he drags himself up off the ground with the strain of a man devoid of all energy. His eyes are angry now and when he speaks again, standing just looking at Face, his tone is restrained, as though he's having a hard time keeping his emotions in.

"Fine Face... just fine." he says quietly, before he looks at the conman straight in the eye, his expression deadly serious " But if I had told you that that bastard was your father, do you think you would have thanked me? You think it would have been just a nice reunion, happy families between father and son? That man tried to kill you, even after he knew who you were. He knew who you were; he wasn't stupid enough not to check the files on the men who were trying to bring him down. Somewhere in your file, Face, you think the information would have caught his attention? He knew, and he didn't give a damn."

"Stop it Murdock" Face growls. Murdock keeps going, soldiering on, the solid hard facts damaging Face more.

"I didn't tell you when I found out because you're better off without him, a better man not knowing him. He's a murderer Faceman! A cold hearted killer, the leader of a goddamn militia with drugs, people trafficking and slave trading on their 'To Do' list. And you wanted me to tell you about that? Men like that don't deserve people like you giving them time of day. He would have hurt you with it , used it against you. If Hannibal hadn't killed him, if you'd been the one to pull the trigger, would you if you'd known? Even if he deserved it? It was probably better he died, than to have you know from his own lips that you're his own flesh and blood..."

Murdock is going to voice more, but Face doesn't even process any thought as the red consumes his vision, a bellowing thunder in his ears, and he punches Murdock, hard. The pilot staggers back, hand flying to his nose, blood on his fingers already, but those eyes- shocked and hurt- never leave Face, staring at him with an expression of such betrayal.

And then Face realises exactly what he's done.

"God, Murdock," he whispers "I'm... I'm so..." He wants to finish, wants to say anything just so he can make this better, because he finally did it, finally crossed the line, but Murdock just looks at Face for one more painful moment, -like he wants to forgive him or hit back or run away or maybe all three at once- before his brain decides on the latter for the time being. And Face witnesses it all as Murdock stands up and quickly exits out of the tent with a run; the conman standing stock still like he's never going to move again.

And in that moment, Face truly hates himself.


Face is sitting on his bed, staring into space, blanking out the world in favour of the reality in his mind. He's so busy with all the angry words in his head and in his heart, the words of 'sorry' and 'I didn't mean it' unspoken on his tongue -because he's not sure yet whether he wants to apologise to Murdock or just shout at him again- that he doesn't notice at first when Hannibal walks in quietly into the tent and seats himself on the bed beside him. The colonel takes a smoky draw of his cigar before he speaks.

"I heard you and Murdock had a bit of a fight"

Face jolts, startled out of his introspection , pivoting to look at Hannibal, expecting to see some judgement in his eyes; because undoubtedly Hannibal will know what they've fought about, he'll have figured it out, figured out that Face is the son of a murderer.

He's surprised to see no judgement, no mortification, merely a placid questioning look. The fact doesn't make him feel any better. "Suppose the whole goddamn camp did" he says quietly, turning to stare at the walls again, wondering where Murdock is- wanting to know-but at the same time hoping he says away because Face doesn't think he would be able to keep a handle on his emotions again if Murdock were here; struggling to talk to him, undertaking to stumble out his apologises. Face is quiet , and neither of the occupants of the tent speak before Face glances over at Hannibal.

"Did you know?" He doesn't need to elaborate on the question, and even if he did, it's doubtful he would be able to say the words. Did you know that that low-life murderer Bancroft might have been my father?

"I wondered." Hannibal replies, his voice still reposeful and calm, and Face , in a split instant that flies in and exits just as quickly, wants Hannibal to be mad at him, to shout at him for hurting Murdock or being such a prick or both. Or to tell him that Murdock was mistaken, that he should have told him about the news as soon as he had discovered it. "But I got the rest from your shouting" He scratches the side of his head as though in thought, taking another gulp of smoke from his cigar"I just got a call from an old friend from Iraq. Some feedback on DNA confirmation that Murdock requested. "

Face swallows hard, not sure he wants to deal with this right now. He feels tired, drained from the anger and the guilt. He's in half a mind to lie down on his bed and block out the world with closed eyes and a pillow over his head, hoping sleep will come. Between thoughts about Murdock, he's been clinging to the petty outlook that the pilot might have been inaccurate, that it's all just some mistake and Bancroft isn't his father. He's too old for fairytale hopes, dreams formed on nothing but a spiders web of crossed fingers and muttered prayers , but for once he just wants to be able to hold onto them "Did he … did he have an outcome?" he makes his query to Hannibal, knowing already the answer in the sinking ship of his hopes.

"Yes" The word is definite, no clue as to what was said.

"And...?" He's afraid of searching for a resolution , but Hannibal just turns to him, informing him silently that Face knows the answer himself already. Face breathes out a curse word like he's petitioning some god, twisting his fingers through his hair once in a nervous action. The fairytale hope vanishes like a imaginary outcome formed from dust and ashes, and the reality rushes up bold and bright. He's the son of a murderer, and always has been.

"Boss..." He doesn't know where to start with the words he wants to speak, wants to say something but he doesn't quite know what. How can he deal with this? He's spent years of knowing exactly who he is only to have it destroyed by a few words. The card tower of his life, sent tumbling down by a strong breeze, a fluttering destruction created out of jacks and aces and queens; except this time Face has got the wrong hands, the wrong cards. Has always held them in his hand without even knowing.

"Face, I know this isn't easy." Hannibal's words are cool-headed, sincere. It doesn't seemed to be helping.

"I... I don't know what to do," Face whispers "I... I just wish he'd told me earlier... so I could, I don't know, try and get some answers outta that bastard before he died" He gets go of a breathe he didn't realise he was holding "I mean, was it so hard to tell me?"

What Hannibal says next makes him stop. It isn't the answer he thought he would hear "If it had been me that had known, I wouldn't have told you either"

"What...?" Face exclaims, startled"Why?"

"Because Murdock had a point. You are a better man without him. You think if you'd been with him, not at the orphanage, your life would have been any better? That life made you the man I see today, and if that man had raised you as his own, there would have been none of the Templeton Peck I know sitting before me today." Hannibal pauses,fixing Face with a serious look "Yes, I suppose it wasn't Murdock's judgement to make on whether you should know, but he took on the burden because he cares about you Face, not because he wanted to hurt you"

"Why though?" Face is angry still, although angry at Murdock or angry that Fate chose to give him his duff hand in this way he's not sure. "Why would he do that?"

Hannibal takes another intake of smoke, breathing out the thick cloud before continuing "I don't know much about our pilot Face, but his own family life wasn't much better than yours. His mum died when he was five, leaving him with a stepfather, and as far as I can gather, the years after weren't good ones. It's not something he likes to mention" There's another pause as the colonel sucks on the nub of his cigar "As far as he's concerned, we're the only family he has. The family he would have wanted, should have had. And he didn't tell you because he knew what it'd do. Every kid harbours illusions about their parents, and if they don't know them, even more so. If he'd told you that that man was your father when he was still alive, you would have hated him for it, even more than you hate him now, because those illusions would have been shattered. He wanted you to hold onto your dreams about your father, because he never had any of his own. His own father packed and left, his mother died. People have been letting him down all his life, and maybe you were the first friend he had. I can see why he wouldn't want anything to hurt that, or to hurt you"

"Jesus..." Face can see it now, suddenly and in the original instant of his understanding, the knowledge is more painful than the revelation about his father. It's the fact that he said those things to Murdock, shouted and screamed at him when the pilot was only trying to protect him. Maybe not going the right way about it, but given the options of the rock and the hard place...

"I shouted at him Hannibal. I said... I said horrible things to him." Face is ashamed just admitting it, but he's always been able to talk to Hannibal , to tell him things he wouldn't tell the others. Hannibal's his oldest friend in their team, a good listener, always has been. Face needs that now more than ever. "I hit him Hannibal." He voices the very syllables like they're a mortal sin, - because to Face they are- and shame digs its roots deep and self-deprecating in his chest. He can't bear to look at Hannibal, not wanting to just in case there is disappointment in his eyes. Hannibal backed up Murdock when they first met him at that hospital, stopped BA from choking him and calmed down Face's doubts in getting in a battered Med-Evac helicopter with 'that freak-show'. Hannibal's patience can cope with Murdock, and even Face has gotten so used to the pilot now that his peculiar mannerisms don't bother him. But today they did. Today Face hurt Murdock, and he did it deliberately. Why would Hannibal forgive him that? They're a team, they've never lashed out at each other without good reason and quick apologises. They're a unit, need to stick together as they've only got each other. But Face has just gone and broken all the unspoken rules and hurt another one of their own. One of the team. His friend. "I didn't mean it," He tells the words to himself although they're spoken aloud "I was just so angry at him ..."

"Well ,you need to go and fix it, don't you?" The Irish brogue makes it sound like it's something so easy to do, and Face looks across at him with anguish in his expression.

"How? I hit him Hannibal. Murdock might be forgiving, but some of the things that I said ..." Face stops, attempting not to think about his furious words, that before seemed so justified but now feel so cruel and heartless.

"And what did I say before, Face? " Hannibal seems so calm "We're his family. People forgive family anything, no matter what it is"


Face has been searching for Murdock for at least five minutes, tramping around the area of their set-up with heavy feet to go with his heavy heart, rubbing his hands together to banish the cold elements , but eventually giving up and just shoving them into the depths of his pockets. So far he's had no luck in finding him.

He's devised a perimeter of where the pilot could be in his head, taking into account the surrounding areas, and the tents and crates they have with them (Murdock wouldn't baulk at hiding under a bed to escape having to talk to Face). So far he's scoured all the tents and boxes, opening each one with a faint expectation of finding Murdock cramped inside, checking under beds and dubiously bunched duvet piles. Their camp isn't really that big, simply on account of Hannibal being strictly adamant that if the Feds close in on them, they'll be able to pack up their limited belongings at a moments notice, and be long gone by the time Lynch and his ilk show their faces. They have no great desire to go back into custody again.

"Murdock?" he hesitates to try and call out for the pilot, worried of frightening him away. He knows from light-hearted games of hide and seek when they were off a mission in Iraq how good Murdock is at concealing himself in unsuspecting places, and he acknowledges full well that if Murdock really doesn't want to be found, it'll be up to the intervention of Hannibal to draw the pilot from his hiding hole.

He hears singing, quiet, murmured, and knows he's close. The surrounding landscape isn't really suitable for a long-term stay, considering they're hiding on one of the many mountains in New Hampshire, but Hannibal found a spot of land that was relatively close to the bottom of the mountain, mostly flat and just punctuated by rocks that made camping on the ground uncomfortable. And regardless, it was hard to imagine that even the Feds would follow them up here. They were far enough off the tourist trails not to be stumbled upon, and even if they were sighted, would merely resemble hikers that had camped for the night.

Murdock's sat with his back against one of the larger rocks, almost hidden in the shadow of dark that had begun to creep across the sky. It's almost nightfall, and Face thinks initially that he must be freezing what with the temperature dropping rapidly. He doesn't say anything, and although Murdock must notice him coming- they've all got good hearing, a talent forced upon them from paranoia over being caught, listening out for any soft footfalls or the click of a gun's safety catch- he doesn't do anything, merely keeps singing; yet it gets quieter, the notes more forced as though he's aware someone is listening and is uncomfortable with his audience. His expression is sorrowful , as Face sits himself down next to him, feeling the cold ground underneath his trousers, an inkling of frost decorating the sparse grass, and his forehead is pulled into a frown that looks like it's been there for some time. His jeans and t-shirt is all that is covering him from that cold and the message on the front of his top says "Why Me?". For a second, Face thinks that the strange logic of Murdock's clothing choices has never been more apt.

Murdock concludes his singing half way through a line , but continues not to say anything, doesn't even glance at Face. Glare at him, acknowledge him, anything. It's as though he's scared to. The silence gnaws at Face, and it exacerbates his wounded thoughts, makes them throb and flare until he has to voice something.

"I shouldn't have hit you." The words come out and hang in the air, adorning the wreath of silence that covers the two. Murdock doesn't response, but Face has to more to say , and he lowers his voice; tentative, wary. " Does it hurt?" They both know he's referring to the punch. The answer matters to him more than he cares to admit.

"Doesn't matter Face" Murdock replies finally in a low murmur, and he waves it off with a lying hand of false disregard. Like it's all in the past, said and done and placed away in a cardboard box to never be opened again.

Face shakes his head, willing Murdock to just turn around, just to look at him, just a glance. "It does." He pauses, and guilt feeds his words "It shouldn't have happened"

Murdock is quiet again, and Face thinks he'll have to say something again, before Murdock's words finally scuttle out of their hiding place, slow with sincerity.

"I didn't want to hurt you." He can't see the pilot's face; it's still turned away, looking out onto the mountainous terrain, seeing the stars appear from the blackness above, but there is sorrow in his voice, misplaced self-reproach that mirrors Face's own feelings.

"I know Murdock" And Face means those words. "It wasn't fair of me to snap at you. I... I'm sorry" He's said it now, what he wanted to say. He's given his peace offering and now it's up to Murdock to take it, to decide whether he deserves to be forgiven. But curiously, the response he gets wasn't the one he was expecting.

"Don't, Face," Murdock finally moves to look at him, and there is a serious look on this face, covering over the sad and guilt for a moment. "One thing... I... I always liked about our fights, was we never had to... stumble over our lips... apologising"

"HM, our fights were never about something this... this big. It was the movie we watched or you hogging the popcorn or borrowing my stuff or spending too much time talking to 'Socky the Sock Puppet' when I was trying to sleep... Not about me saying something so... cruel"

Murdock doesn't reply to this for a moment, and glances away before looking back, biting his lip, his eyes cast down.

"Did you mean what you said?" he asks quietly

"About what?"

"'bout sending me back to the VA?" Murdock seems frightened for a moment that Face will say yes, yes he did mean it, so ploughs on with determination. " Because I won't go back, Face. You can't make me go back there"

"I... I didn't mean it, HM. I was angry" God, Face feels shit now, because he's made Murdock worried, made him scared. Murdock seriously thinks that Face might persuade the others to send him back, and that's Face's fault, his responsibility to put right.

"Angry people say what they're thinking"

"Not this time, Murdock" He fixes his eyes on Murdock seriously, trying to convey honesty in simply a glance. It's never been this hard before. "Look, I don't want you to go back to the VA. You're my best friend Murdock; the craziest smart-ass best friend I could have asked for. And I could never send you back there"

Murdock pauses. Doubts are still there, and of course Face couldn't have expected to have them cast out so soon. "But I kept that information about your dad from you"

"Yeah, well," Face leans back"Sometimes, it's probably better not knowing about some things" He's talking about his father now, but he's also talking about Murdock and what Hannibal told him, about the pilot's family life that he never mentions. And the pilot knows this from the look Face gives him. Some things you don't want to know, or don't want to tell. And that's necessary sometimes.

There's another pause, then;

"Can you forgive me?"

Face takes in Murdock fondly, and replies with words he's never meant more. "There's nothing to forgive," He sees the pilot shivering faintly from the cold, and pulls off his jacket, draping it over his shoulders, helping banish the goose pimples up the pilot's bare arms, covering them from the bitter air "You're family Murdock." he says simply, recalling Hannibal's words "'means I forgive you anything"

"You mean that?" The light in Murdock's eyes is so sudden and intense that it makes Face sad for a moment. Sad that Murdock's never considered himself to have a family before, sad that Murdock didn't see that the four of them had all been a family; a dysfunctional, mad, crazy family. Sad that he didn't realise that Face always thought Murdock was like a brother. Being an orphan, he never had any siblings, but he's long considered that his relationship with the pilot is exactly what it would be like; being able to care about someone like they were your own, defending them against any harm, just being yourself around them. That's him and Murdock, and he's never seen it any differently.

"Yeah"He smiles at Murdock "Except when you steal my socks and cut holes in them for puppets. That's a no go area"

Murdock pauses, taking this in, and then a grin illuminates his whole being, the glow kept inside him in a secret place to burn brighter and brighter. "I never had family before"

"Sure you did Murdock. Me, BA, Hannibal. You just didn't know it"

Murdock smiles again, and leans his head against Face's shoulder. "Family" he repeats quietly, and Face wraps his arm around the pilot to pull him in closer. His heart can't help but melt slightly at the contented sound of peace in Murdock's murmur, and Face holds him close like a younger brother as they sit and watch the stars together.