New A-Slash Archive Entry



by Elizabeth Kent

"What do you suppose William said when he got home?"

Face shrugged and kicked through the autumn leaves that littered the sidewalk in the park where they walked. He stopped for a minute and watched two squirrels skitter up the trunk of a tree. "Honey, I'm home?" he suggested. "How about a night of wild, passionate sex?"

Murdock laughed and cooed at Face in falsetto. "Ooh, Willy, the invasion must have gone well. Winning always makes you hot for my body."

Face grinned and turned to face Murdock, looking him up and down. "They don't call me the Conqueror for nothing, dear," he said regally.

Murdock batted his eyelashes seductively. "You conquered me years ago, you big, regal studmuffin." He reached out to run his index finger down the center of Face's chest.

With a laugh, Face batted his hand away. "William the Studmuffin. I don't think that he'd want to go down that way in the history books."

Murdock looked at the book in his hand. "1066: William the Conqueror in Anglo-Saxon England." Face had bought it for him when they'd been on a case in England last month, and they'd been reading it together on weekends. Well, they'd been reading some and making love a lot. It was taking them awhile to get through the book. Trust Face to make history fun. "It's how I'd want to go down in the history books," he said. "Maybe someday we can write a book together. ' Sex Lives of the Conquerors.' We could do a chapter on William."

Face put a hand on Murdock's arm and urged him to keep walking. "It'd be a short chapter," he said as they crunched through the ankle-deep leaves. "They say he was faithful to his wife."

"Aw, that's sweet," Murdock said. He put an arm around Face's shoulders as they walked, and Face leaned into his side a bit. "Well, we'll just replace it with a chapter on you. I guess it'd have to be a few chapters. Maybe a lot. Most of the book, actually."

Face shook his head. "Those weren't conquests, Murdock. Not really. At worst, it was two people using each other. At best it was a nice girl just helping me get through a lonely night."

Murdock squeezed Face's shoulder. "And maybe you helping her."

"Maybe." Face nodded politely to an elderly lady who sat on a bench knitting. She smiled back as the two passed her. Face breathed in the scent of autumn deeply. "You know, Murdock, I kind of like these little New England towns. I'm glad we decided to stick around awhile."

Hannibal and B.A. were long gone, driving cross-country back to Los Angeles. Face and Murdock were going to take a few more days off, see a bit of the countryside, then catch a flight home. It had been a fairly easy case. Nobody was worse for the wear this time, and they'd completed the job ahead of schedule, so Hannibal hadn't minded letting them have a little down time once they'd explained their reasoning. "It'll give us a chance to finish that book we've been reading," Murdock had said with a wink at Face. Face had blushed scarlet.

"You could finish the book in the van," B.A. had said.

"Nah, it wouldn't be the same, and we'd just irritate you with our noise," Murdock said.

"How much noise can you make reading a book?" Hannibal asked.

"Ah, well, you see, Face gets very...passionate...about history."

"Murdock!" Face had hissed. The others still didn't know about them, and at least for the time being, he wanted to keep it that way. Hannibal had acquiesced without an argument, just cautioning them to be careful not to call any undue attention to themselves.

It was a sweet little town. A spacious city park covered two square blocks it the center of town. Across the street, small shops lined the sidewalk, and residents walked unhurriedly from one of them to another. They'd found a nice restaurant the night before and had celebrated the beginning of their vacation with a good meal and an excellent bottle of wine.

Murdock watched Face crouch and gather up two handfuls of dry autumn leaves, crunching them between his fingers and inhaling their warm, musty fragrance. A slight breeze sent occasional showers of leaves falling from the trees, and as Murdock watched, a lone leaf traced a lazy spiral and came to rest on Face's shoulder. Face had never spent much time in this part of the country and was having the time of his life. He'd never have admitted it to the others, but his poetic soul gloried in the colors, the sounds, and the scent of autumn here. Murdock loved to see him so happy. He crouched beside Face, brushing the leaf away.

"Someday maybe we can come live in a town like this, Facey. We can go for walks every day then go back home"

Face laughed softly, deep in his throat. Murdock loved that sound. Face picked up an orange leaf, turning it over and over in his hands, tracing the veins with his fingers. None of those women ever meant anything to me, you know," he said, his eyes still on the leaf. "Not as conquests, not as lovers. I mean, I liked them, usually. But it wasn't it is with you. Not even with Leslie."

"I know, Facey. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, who you've been with, or why. You know that. All that matters is now because that's all we can really be sure of having."

They were startled out of their conversation by a scream behind them. They leapt to their feet and whirled around to see the elderly lady they had just passed lying on the sidewalk, and a lanky, black-clad youth running through the park, her purse in his hand.

Face sprinted after the boy while Murdock ran to the woman. Blood flowed from a cut over her eye, but she was trying to get up. "It's okay, ma'am," he said. "Take it easy." He took off his jacket and tried to place it over her, hoping she hadn't broken her hip in the fall.

"My purse That boy took my purse!" the lady said. "That little bastard stole my purse! Let me up, sonny! I'm gonna go kick his ass!" She threw off the jacket, evaded Murdock's hand as he attempted to restrain her, and struggled to her feet. Once standing, though, she swayed a bit and put her hand to her head.

Murdock quickly reassessed the situation. A small knot of people was gathering around, having seen the commotion. "Ma'am, you'd better sit down for a minute till the dizziness passes," Murdock said. "My friend went after the boy that took your purse. He'll get him."

The lady sat down but brandished her knitting needles. "When I get my hands on that young punk, I'm gonna stick these where the sun don't shine!" she fumed. Murdock would have laughed but decided he didn't want to find out first hand about those knitting needles. Instead he pulled out his handkerchief and held it to her wound.

"I bet it was that Nelson boy and that rough crowd he's starting to run with," huffed a portly gentleman in an ill-fitting brown suit. His belly hung out over the top of the pants, and the buttons on his white shirt looked close to popping off.

"I keep telling you, you shouldn't put your purse down on the bench when you're here, Polly," offered a younger woman, evidently an acquaintance of elderly woman.

"I didn't put it down!" Polly snapped. "The little creep had a knife. He cut the strap clean in half when I wouldn't let go of it!"

That alarmed Murdock. He hadn't expected the kid would be armed. He looked around and didn't see Face heading back. "Ma'am, can you stay with Polly? I'm gonna go see if my friend needs any help."

"Sure." The young woman took Murdock's place at Polly's side, still holding the handkerchief in place. Polly thrust the knitting needles toward Murdock. "Take these and make good use of `em!" she said vengefully.

Murdock held up his hands. "No, thanks. I don't think I'll need them."

"Suit yourself, sonny."

Murdock jogged across the park and across the street on the far side of it, wondering which direction the chase had taken Face. Face was worse than B.A. for having a soft spot for the elderly, and he wouldn't stop chasing the kid until he got that purse back.

Face's quarry led him a merry chase amongst the buildings. This was an older section of town, less picturesque than the section on the other side of the park. Warehouses and a few derelict buildings lined the street, and behind them ran an old railroad track. Face saw the boy head down the tracks and duck between two buildings. Face followed and rounded the corner. The boy had stopped running and was just standing there. Before Face even had time to think what was wrong with that picture, something crashed into his back, right across his shoulders, and he fell face-down. But he rolled over and up into a crouch to face his attacker. Attackers. There were four of them. One was still swinging the club he'd used to knock Face down.

"You know, this is really a crappy way to greet tourists," Face said. "I thought these small New England towns were full of God-fearing, friendly people."

"This ain't the tourist part of town," said the one with the bat.

"Well, I always like to see the other parts of the towns I visit," Face said, standing straight and brushing some dirt off his shirtsleeve. "See where the scum hide out. Sometimes I like to spend a little time cleaning up, you know?" He sincerely hoped Murdock was not too far behind him. He'd torn at bushes, knocked over trash cans, and generally left a trail a blind man could follow. If Murdock didn't come along soon, he was going to be in some deep shit. He turned his attention to the kid with the purse. "And you," he said, shaking his finger sternly at the young man, "shouldn't be mugging little old ladies, either."

The kid shrugged and dropped the purse. "Ain't nothin' in it worth havin' anyway," he said.

"Well, then, no harm done. I'm sure you won't mind if I just take it back to her."

"What are we gonna do with him?" one of the others asked.

"Got no choice," answered the kid with the bat. "We gotta kill him."

"Now, that's just a little drastic," Face said. "Look, you seem like nice kids. I'm sure we can work something out."

Without answering, the others closed on him. They were just kids, but they were big kids, and they were armed. He'd been just a couple of years older than they were when he went to Vietnam. "Hurry up, Murdock," he said under his breath as he lunged forward to try and catch one of them off guard.

Murdock followed Face's signs through a seedy part of town, growing more and more worried. If the kid wasn't working alone, Face could have walked right into a very bad situation.

He heard sounds of a scuffle and sprinted around the corner, drawing his weapon as he did so. Face lay on his back on the ground, his arms up and crossed in front of him, trying to fend off the knife-wielding kid who was trying to stab him while another held him down. Blood covered his hands and arms. Just as he managed to throw off those kids and tried to rise, another kid swung a club at him. Murdock heard the crack as it connected and Face fell again.

Murdock fired one shot into the air, and all movement stopped. "Drop the weapons, boys, or the next bullet goes into one of you."

The oldest of the group tried to rally his companions. "He ain't gonna shoot kids. We can take him, too."

Murdock leveled his weapon at the boy's head. "You think? Let me tell you something, boy. I killed plenty of kids in Vietnam. Kids younger than you are, and I'm good at it. But if you want to test your theory, be my guest."

Three of the four dropped their weapons, but the fourth continued to hold his ground. He raised his club as if to use it, then yelped in surprised as a bullet whistled past his head, missing him by only inches. "You're fucking crazy!" the kid shouted.

"Yep, I am." Murdock's voice was cold. "Fresh outta the funny farm. If I kill you, they'll just send me back there. So I don't lose anything at all. Now drop it."

The kid dropped the club and stood back. Murdock kicked the weapons out of the way then herded the four kids to a metal storage shed by the tracks. There was no window and only one way out. Keeping his weapon trained on the door, Murdock scanned the ground and found a suitable piece of metal with which to jam the lock. It would hold long enough for the authorities to get there.

He holstered his gun, ran back to where Face was, and checked him over quickly. Face was unconscious, and a large lump was coming up just over his right eye. His hands and arms were covered with lacerations and bleeding badly. Murdock swore under his breath and started tearing strips off the bottom of his shirt to try to try to stem the worst of the bleeding just as Face came to.

Face opened his eyes partway, but his vision swam. He flinched and tried to pull away when someone touched his arm.

"It's just me, babe. It's me."


"Yeah. Just lie still here. You got cut up pretty badly."

Face kept his eyes closed. "Do I still have all my fingers?"

"So far."

" `M dizzy," Face whispered. "Don't feel too good."

"I know you don't." Murdock tried to sound calm as he worked to stop the blood that pulsed from Face's lacerated right wrist, the deepest of the wounds. Face was going into shock, and Murdock hadn't seen or heard any sign of police cars or ambulances. He held the pressure on Face's wrist, breathing a sigh of relief as he finally heard a siren in the distance. When the police car cruised slowly by the far end of the alley, Murdock waved one hand, and the car turned and came toward them.

"Face, you got any I.D. on you?"

"No," Face whispered. "You got your permit?"

"Yeah, I got it.

" `Kay." Face closed his eyes and let himself drift, only aware enough to know that the less he said now, the less chance there was of them telling two different stories. Murdock could handle it.

The officer got out of his car and knelt at Face's side. "I've radioed for an ambulance. You the guys that were chasing the purse snatcher?"

"Yes," Murdock answered. "They're locked in that shed over there. They tried to kill him."

The officer looked at the shed then back at Murdock. "They?"

"There were four of them. High school kids. They had clubs and knives." Murdock inclined his head toward the pile of weapons that he had kicked aside.

"How'd you get them in the shed?"

Careful not to make any sudden moves, Murdock kept both his hands locked around Face's wrist and said, "I have a weapon. It's in my shoulder holster. There's a permit in my wallet."

The officer nodded but made no attempt to confiscate the weapon or look at the permit. "Okay. I'll call for some backup and take care of the kids. We'll get your statement later." He felt Face's pulse at the neck. "Ambulance should be here in five minutes or so." He returned to his car, spoke into the radio, then pulled a first aid kit and blanket from his trunk and returned.

Face opened his eyes as the officer spread the blanket over him. He tried to thank the man but couldn't work up enough energy to get the word out. The world was very dark, as if storm clouds had suddenly sprung up to cover the sun. He heard Murdock's voice but couldn't make out individual words. Maybe it would be better if he just slept.

Murdock rolled over and fumbled for the phone, trying to get it before it woke Face, who slumbered beside him. It was probably Hannibal, calling to check on them. Murdock had been pretty upset when he'd called Hannibal the day before yesterday from the hospital. Face had been in surgery for a very long time as doctors worked on his arms and hands. They'd spoken of possible nerve damage, of loss of sensation or function, but Murdock had refused to believe it.

"It's me, Murdock. How are you two doing?"

Murdock checked the bedside clock. It was six p.m. Face had been released from the hospital that afternoon, and Murdock had brought him back to their hotel, where they had both fallen into an exhausted sleep.

"We're doin' okay, Hannibal."

"Did I wake you up?"

"It's okay. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway."

Hannibal sighed. "How is he?"

"He's hurting some, but it doesn't look like there was any permanent damage. He was lucky. He's gonna need some physical therapy, but it looks like he'll probably get back full use of his hands in time."

"Good." Hannibal's relief was palpable. "Do you want us to come get you?"

"No, I don't think so. Our cover's good here, and Face is a local hero now. I think it'd look more suspicious if we got in a hurry to leave than it would if we just hung out here until he's feeling well enough to travel home. We've got a nice suite at the hotel, free of charge."

"You sound better than you did last time I talked to you."

"Well, I still wasn't too sure yesterday about his hands, and he was feeling pretty bad overall. I was worried. He wouldn't take it well if he were crippled."

"I'll line up someone in L.A. to work with him when you get him home."

"Okay. I'll tell him."

"Call if you need anything. We should be back to L.A. in another day or so."

"Thanks, Hannibal."

"Take care of him, Captain."

"I will."

Murdock hung up and switched on the bedside lamp, then rolled onto his side, inspecting Face carefully. He couldn't make himself stop checking on him. Face's arms and hands were swathed in thick bandages. Another bandage covered the cut on his forehead.

So many terrible things had almost happened. Any one of the blows that lacerated his hands and arms could have ended up in his chest or stomach. Any of them could have rendered his hands useless. If Murdock had been a little later, a little slower, Face could have bled to death. The club could have crushed his skull instead of giving him a minor concussion. He could have lost Face forever.

Carefully, softly, he bent down and pressed his lips to Face's, the warmth of Face's lips against his immeasurably reassuring. He slipped an arm under Face's neck and another around Face's chest, careful of the bruising there, and held him. He could feel Face breathe this way, feel every move he made. He kissed Face's cheek and lay his head next to Face on Face's pillow. He didn't sleep, he just lay there letting Face's soft, even breaths comfort him.

Finally, more than an hour later, Face woke. He moved a little under Murdock's arm. Murdock sat up and looked at him. "Hey, sleepyhead," Murdock said. "How do you feel?"

Face smiled, then yawned. "Better. It is time for dinner yet?"

"I'll order room service. What do you want?"

Face looked down at his bandaged hands. "Something with a straw would be nice. Definitely not spaghetti."

With a laugh, Murdock clambered out of bed and went into the next room. Shortly thereafter there was a knock on their door, and when Murdock opened it, the hotel manager himself wheeled in a cloth-covered trolley.

"Dinner's here," Murdock announced, returning to the bedroom.

"Good, I'm starved. What is it?"

"Lots of nice things. It pays to be a local celebrity." Murdock wheeled the trolley closer to the bed and helped Face sit up. When Murdock whisked the cloth off the trolley, Face whistled. It was loaded with food. Murdock brought a plate and a fork to the bedside table and sat on the bed. He spread a white cloth napkin over Face'schest and kissed him.

"Mmm," Face said. "Is that what's for dinner?"

"That's for after dinner," Murdock smiled. "If you're up to it."

Face looked at the trolley ruefully as Murdock prepared a plate. "I'm sorry about this, Murdock.You shouldn't have to play nursemaid on your vacation."

Murdock returned to the bed with one plate and one fork, and one glass of soda with two straws. With a smile, he bent to kiss Face again. "Think of it as foreplay," he said.

They shared the food on the plate, Murdock taking one bite and feeding Face the next, stealing kisses between bites, caressing Face through the blankets, and turning what could have been an awkward time into one of the most exciting and romantic meals Face had ever had. Face didn't eat much, as large quantities of food did not mix well with his pain medication, but he felt better when he had finished. The taste of one last chocolate-dipped strawberry lingered on Murdock's lips as he kissed Face again.

Face tried to raise his arms, but pain stopped him. He gasped a little against Murdock's lips.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Face said. "I'm just sore."

"How about a nice bath?"

"Do you think it'll be as much fun as dinner?"

"I can practically guarantee it, lover boy."

Murdock wheeled the trolley from the room and opened the door to push it into the hallway. The maid was just coming to his door and took it from him. Face heard her say, "How is Mr. Englund this evening?"

"Much better, thanks," Murdock said. "He enjoyed the meal."

"Polly Harper brought this package for him earlier tonight and left it at the front desk," said the maid. "I thought you might like to have it for him."

Murdock thanked her, gave her a generous tip, and brought the package back to Face. Face looked at the tag. "Mr. Englund?" he said. "Is that the best you could do?"

"I was stressed out at the time," Murdock answered a little defensively. "It was the first thing I thought of. You don't like it?"

"Norman Englund?" Face said.

Murdock shrugged. "I toyed with Rocky P. Niss but figured you'd hate that even worse."

Face shook his head. "Oh, Murdock, that's terrible," he groaned. But his amusement was obvious.

Murdock tore open the package for Face. Inside were two purple knitting needles and a note: Thought you could use these for the next punk you run into. Thanks for getting the little s.o.b.s into jail where they belong.

Murdock laughed delightedly and told Face how Polly had wanted him to take the needles with him to use on the boys. "If she'd gotten to those kids before we did, I don't have any doubt she'd have inserted them right where she said she would."

Face smiled, glad to hear the old lady was so feisty. He closed his eyes and rested a little while Murdock ran the bath water. Now that he was a little more awake and not as drugged up, he took stock of his body. His back and ribs hurt a lot, bruising from the beating with the club spreading around his torso. His head hurt, too, especially the spot right over his eye. His hands and arms were sore, and he knew they were going to hurt more in the days ahead. But the medication gave him a slight buzz, and for the moment, he felt okay. A nice warm bath would feel good.

"Bath's ready," Murdock said, returning to the bedroom. "You're going to like this."


"You'll see."

Murdock helped Face out of bed, steadying him as he stood up. Face leaned against him as they made their way into the bathroom. The fragrance of lavender greeted him, and steam rose from a large, oval whirlpool tub. The lights were dimmed, and candles burned on the ledge around the tub and on the counter.

"Wow, Murdock," Face said, surveying the room. "This is great!"

"Let's get you into the water," Murdock said. Face was still a little unsteady on his feet, so Murdock kept one arm around his waist and worked down the pajama bottoms with the other hand. He helped Face over the edge of the tub and eased him down to sit on a ledge, carefully positioning his arms to rest on towels along the edges of the tub. "You okay there for a minute?" he asked.

Face nodded happily and leaned his head back against the edge of the tub. The water was hot, and fragrant clouds of steam rose up around him. He could feel the tight muscles in his back and shoulders begin to relax. Murdock returned with two glasses of ice water and a tape. He popped the tape into the tape player and Johnny Mathis began to sing. It was their favorite album. Murdock must have taken it out of the van before B.A. left.

Face opened his eyes and watched Murdock undress. He loved Murdock's body, loved the way it fitted so comfortably against his when they slept together, loved the way those strong, capable hands searched out all his most sensitive spots when they made love, the gentle kisses Murdock bestowed upon him when he was sick or hurt or just plain cranky and tired. The worst thing about losing function in his hands would have been not feeling that soft skin and hard muscle under his palms anymore, not feeling the gratifying hardening of Murdock's penis in his hand when he stroked him. Eating, drinking, writing, driving, the loss of all those things would be nothing compared to not being able to touch his lover anymore. His eyes followed Murdock as he stepped into the water and set the glasses carefully on the edge of the tub. "This is nice, Murdock," he murmured.

Murdock leaned forward and kissed him gently. "Mm-hm."

"Very romantic."

Another kiss. "Mm-hm."

"Are we gonna make love?"

"I'm gonna make love to you. You're going to relax. Okay?"

Face looked into Murdock's dark eyes, so full of love and concern. "I love you, Murdock."

"I love you, too, Facey. Now just close your eyes and let me take care of you."

With a contented sigh, Face closed his eyes and leaned back. Murdock sat beside him on the ledge for long minutes, both of them letting the hot water swirl around them and sooth tired muscles as they kissed. Finally Face felt Murdock move away, back into the water. He rubbed Face's feet, strong thumbs stroking firmly along the instep, fingers wrapped gently around the toes. It felt heavenly, and Face moaned happily.

Hands moved up his legs, massaging calves and thighs, gentle stroking alternating with firm pressure and slow kneading. Hands slipped under him, cupping his buttocks, squeezing firmly. Face wouldn't have said that part of his body could get so sore just by lying in bed for two days, but it had, and those warm hands felt so good.

Murdock slipped behind him to sit on the ledge and pull Face into his lap as he carefully rubbed his back. Mindful of the bruises, Murdock caressed rather than massaged, but even that, combined with the hot water, helped. He rubbed the sore shoulders and neck, sloughing hot water over them. When he could feel Face relax against him in a boneless heap, he moved his hands around to the front and ran them carefully, gently over the abused ribs, then up over his chest.

Face sighed again. "Wish we could stay in the tub forever," he whispered. "Like it here."

"Me, too," Murdock said. He eased his way out from behind Face, settling him comfortably back on the ledge. He knelt in the tub in front of Face, then he picked up a glass of water and held it to Face's lips. Face sipped at it, looking up into Murdock's eyes over the rim of the glass. Murdock sipped too, out of the same glass. His lips were still cold when he leaned forward and pressed them against Face's shoulder and chest.

Face shivered in reaction and arched into the caress. Murdock leaned forward to kiss his lips again, his tongue slipping into Face's mouth. His tongue rubbed Face's palate, and his arms slipped around Face, holding him close.

Face had never lain still like this before, not touching Murdock in return, not giving as good as he got. This passivity excited him in a way he hadn't expected, allowing him to focus entirely on what was happening to his own body. Murdock paused for another sip of water, and Face jumped when Murdock's lips touched his nipple and cold water trickled over it, an icy tongue laved it. He moaned softly when Murdock took another sip of water and did the same thing to the other nipple.

The whole experience was an exercise in contrasts. Icy kisses on warm skin, soft caresses following firm kneading, butterfly kisses on neck and chest alternating with long, open-mouthed kisses and a plunging, demanding tongue. "God, Murdock, where did you learn to do this?" Face asked, breathless.

Murdock smiled. "For some reason I find myself able to be very inventive where you're concerned," he said. "Sort of like sexual jazz."

"Except it works better," Face said.

Murdock's hands slid up Face's legs from ankle to hip, then he leaned up to press more kisses across Face's chest and shoulders. He slipped his hands around Face's waist and lay his face carefully against Face's chest, listening to his heart beat, content just to hold him. He could feel Face's erection between their bellies. He pulled back then, reached between them, and closed one hand around Face's erection and slid the other lower and cupped his testicles, exerting only the slightest pressure.

Face sighed and let his eyes close, his head fall back against the tub, abandoning himself entirely to Murdock's ministrations. Murdock stroked him, varying his technique as he had all night. Slow then fast, light pressure following harder pressure, stroking the sensitive spot underneath at the base then the very tip, one hand then both, one cold, one warm.

Face's breath came fast and shallow, the sensation close to unbearable. He opened his eyes and looked at Murdock. Sweat beaded Murdock's forehead in the warm tub, and his mouth was open slightly, lips curved upward in a smile. Flushed from arousal and the hot water, Murdock looked beautiful, so beautiful. And he was intent on Face alone, on pleasuring him...him. Murdock loved him. The thought alone brought Face close to tears.

Face was too tired, too weak to thrust against Murdock's hand, to help himself at all. So he remained passive, trusting in Murdock, marveling at how much this experience affected him emotionally and physically. He finally felt his climax build, felt the familiar rush as he exploded in Murdock's hand. He was so spent he would have collapsed completely and slipped into the water if Murdock had not been there to put his hands on Face's waist and support him as he recovered.

Murdock held Face tenderly, gently, waiting for the climax to spend itself. That moment of climax, when Face was most vulnerable, was Murdock's favorite part of making love to him. Face was not a trusting person, not one who allowed himself to be vulnerable. That he placed himself so completely in Murdock's hands, both literally and figuratively, that he'd allow Murdock to see him in that helpless moment of complete abandon, was an act of trust that conveyed more strongly than words ever could the depth of Face's love. He swore to himself he would never give Face reason to regret it.

When Face's heart rate returned to something close to normal, he opened his eyes and smiled sleepily. "You're the best, Murdock."

Murdock grinned. "You make it easy, Facey."

"What about you?"

Murdock slid around behind Face again, ducking carefully under Face's arm and sitting on the ledge behind him, straddling Face's legs. Face leaned back against him, resting the back of his head on Murdock's shoulder, wondering how Murdock was going to enter him from this angle. He could feel Murdock's erection against his buttocks. "Mm, we should have called you Rocky," Face whispered.

Murdock held Face's hips but bent his own knees. He put his hands around Face's waist and thrust himself gently against Face's backside, not trying to enter him, just rubbing against hm. Face bent his head back and twisted just a bit so he could look up at Murdock behind him. "Is that you, or did you bring the knitting needles?"

Murdock laughed. "It's me." He stopped for a moment. "Am I hurting you?"

"No, you're not. Go ahead."

Murdock continued to thrust, and as he did so, he kissed Face's shoulders and neck and buried his nose in Face's thick, damp hair. "I get this way every time I think of you," Murdock whispered. "Every time I see you undress to take a shower or get ready for bed, every time you get close enough for me to smell your cologne, or the sun gets your hair hot and I can smell your shampoo. You make me so hot, baby. So hot. I could spend the rest of my life buried inside you."

Face loved the erotic talk. He was too spent for it to make him hard again. Even the sensation of Murdock's erection rubbing against his buttocks couldn't do it. But this let him concentrate on the words, on the love so evident behind them. On the breathless quality of Murdock's voice and the deep affection so apparent in the way his thumbs caressed Face's sides even as he attended to his own needs.

"First time I saw you, I knew I wanted you. Wanted you to be mine. Wanted to own you like I've never owned anyone else. You're so sweet, baby. So sweet."

Murdock's words finally came to a halt as his pace quickened and he neared climax, concentrating on the physical act alone. Face could feel Murdock's penis jerk against him when he came, felt the warm liquid spread between them in the cooling water. Spent at last, Murdock settled back and just held Face close. Finally, just as Face was about to fall asleep completely, Murdock roused himself and shifted Face to the side. Face opened his eyes sleepily, and Murdock grinned at him.

Murdock climbed out of the tub and dried quickly, then wrapped a thick, soft towel around his waist. He reached back in and helped Face out of the tub, letting Face sit on the side of the tub rather than standing as Murdock dried him. Finally he wrapped another towel around Face's waist, helped him stand, and led him carefully out of the bathroom and into the bedroom, settling him back into the bed.

Nearly asleep, Face watched Murdock move about shutting off the lights and moving their clothes off the foot of the bed and onto a convenient chair, marveling as he always did at his great good fortune in finding this man. Murdock was everything to him. Face wasn't a conqueror. It was Murdock. He'd conquered Face the first day they met, capturing and keeping him, body and soul, years before Face even knew he'd been captured.

As Murdock climbed into bed behind him, Face wriggled closer and felt that warm, wonderful body wrap around his in a protective embrace. His guardian, his friend, his lover and savior. His conqueror.

They slept then, easy in each other's embrace, the conqueror and the conquered, but to look at them, nobody could have told which was which.


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