Title: Voices

Summary: Even after Murdock is officially "sane," sometimes he still needs support.

Author: sss979

Rating: PG

Warnings: None.

"Face?"

Was that really a voice or was he dreaming? Wading through the haze of sleepy, groggy darkness, he waited for it to come again. Who would possibly be talking to him at this hour?

"Facey? You awake?"

That was real.

Opening his eyes, the first thing Face saw was the clock on the bedside table. Three a.m. "Murdock, what the hell are you doing here."

"Oh, good, you're awake."

"No, I'm not awake. What do you want?"

"Face, I had to talk to you. It's... it's important."

That worried tone, the tension in his voice. He wasn't going to go away. Of course, if there was any thought of him going away, he wouldn't have shown up here in the first place. More than that, he wouldn't have let himself in without even knocking. Something was wrong.

With a sigh and just enough determination to produce an effect, Face sat up, rubbing his eyes. He turned on the bedside table lamp, folded his legs in front of him, and leaned forward, holding his head in his hands. Still mostly asleep, he yawned, not bothering to look around the room.

"Alright, Murdock. What's so important it couldn't wait until morning, hmm?"

Murdock took a deep breath, paced a few steps closer, and sat down at the foot of the bed. His wide - fearful? - eyes were on Face. Sitting up and folding his arms in his lap, Face gave him his full, though groggy, attention.

"I'm hearing voices, Face."

Face stared blankly. He could tell he was supposed to have some reaction to that, but for the life of him, he couldn't figure out what that reaction was supposed to be.

"What kind of voices?"

"Voices in my head. Voices that aren't real."

"What are they saying?"

"I don't know. I can't make sense of them. Like they're all talking at once."

Face sighed. Murdock had proclaimed himself free of voices in his head, months ago. So had the doctors at the VA. Without the drugs to induce symptoms and side effects that weren't there on their own, He had, in fact, had remarkably little in the past few months that could be considered "psychosis" of any kind.

"You're overtired, Murdock."

"No! No, I'm not just overtired, that's not it, that's not all!" On his feet and immediately pacing, it was as if the suggestion had only wound the spring up tighter. So tight, in fact, that it was on the verge of snapping. "I'm hearing voices, Face! Really real voices in my head but they're not there because when I go look there's nobody there in my apartment. They're real voices, Face! They're real!"

"Okay, okay, they're real voices, Murdock." He wasn't going to argue. There was no sense in it. "What do you want me to do?"

Murdock stopped. The frustration died down into a look of confusion and he continued with a pleading voice. "Are they real?"

"Well, I'm not going to argue with you."

Somehow, that was the wrong thing to say again. Pacing again, so fast it was clear he was frantic, Murdock shook his head. "Damn it, I'm not crazy! I'm not!"

Face sighed. He was getting nowhere. "Murdock, what the hell did you see that got you so worked up?"

"Not see. Hear. I hear voices. I don't see them."

"I mean before this."

"Before? Before how? Before I was crazy?"

"No. Did you see something on TV that made you think about the VA? Something like that?"

His pacing stopped. His eyes grew distant. That panic drained again and he stared blankly at something over Face's shoulder. "My dad used to tell me I was crazy, you know."

"Your dad was an asshole."

"Yeah, I know, but... I always knew he was wrong until one day he wasn't. One day when I realized I could see things in the dark that weren't there because the dark was all dark all the time. But then I could see things and they weren't there. And the people, they'd talk to me. He'd talk to me and I could hear him and I could see them and I knew I couldn't see, but..."

There were tears in his eyes. He pressed the heels of his palms against them, then shook his head as his hands dropped to his sides again. "Face, I don't wanna be crazy. I'm hearing voices, Face. And I'm scared."

Face sighed deeply. Whatever had gotten him worked up, it had done a damn good job. "Are you hearing them right now?'

Murdock paused, then shook his head. "No."

"Why not?'

"Because you're here."

"If I let you stay here, will you go to sleep?"

He nodded.

"Fine. Stay. But Stockwell's been hinting he's going to have something for us first thing in the morning and that means I really need to sleep. So no talking, okay?"

It was more of a plea than anything. If Murdock needed to talk, he wouldn't be able to do anything but. And it would mean Face wasn't getting back to sleep tonight.

But Murdock didn't say a word. Still fully dressed - including shoes and jacket - he crawled into the other side of the bed, curled up into a ball with his back to Face, and closed his eyes. Face watched him for a moment, then left the light on for him as he lay back down and drifted back to sleep.