Lost and Found
by Elizabeth Kent
Murdock pressed the mobile phone closer to his ear. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Face watched Murdock's _expression but couldn't read anything from it this time. Normally Murdock was so expressive, so open, but since this whole Bancroft case got started, he'd been secretive and twitchy and couldn't seem to settle to anything. They weren't used to keeping secrets from each other, especially not a secret as big as the identity of Face's father, which was, maybe, the secret of Face's own identity.
Bancroft. Richard Bancroft. He let that name roll around in his head. Was that really him? Somehow he just couldn't connect with it. He'd never chosen a name even remotely similar as an alias. He couldn't remember ever having another name he didn't make up himself, but sometimes there were words or names that sounded familiar when he heard them...names he wondered about, that he heard in dreams and thought might be his. Richard Bancroft wasn't one of them.
Still, there was that connection with Ellen that he'd felt. But that didn't make a lot of sense either. Even if they were half-siblings, he'd been at the orphanage before she was even born, so there was no way they could have once known and then lost each other. Maybe it was really just a connection he wanted to feel at a time of year (especially this year) when he wished he had a family...a birth family that was waiting for him somewhere, roasting a perfect turkey and baking homemade pumpkin pies and dragging the boxes of Christmas lights down out of the attic. Just wishful thinking.
Murdock hung up the phone and turned to Face, his hands jammed into the pockets of his coat. "He wasn't your father."
Face's breath caught in his throat. Torn between vast relief and bitter disappointment, he was simply too paralyzed to react. He wasn't Bancroft's long-lost son. Not the son of a criminal. Not the son of someone who had carried a picture for years, regretting the lost time but loving him nonetheless. He was still just Face. Just someone who grew up without parents.
Face breathed out a sigh. "I never knew what it was like to have a father. I guess I still don't. " He glanced toward Bancroft's grave. Not like Ellen, he thought. She knew her father -- hated him and grieved for him all at the same time. And now she'd go to the Senate hearing with Bancroft's evidence, put paid to another crook's confirmation hearing, and then go home and be alone with fresh heartache and nobody to turn to. Of all the tragedies in this whole mess, that was, perhaps, the worst.
"What are you gonna tell her?" Murdock asked.
"I'm gonna tell her that I wish were her brother, but I'm not," Face said. "Then I'm gonna tell her how to get to the house and that dinner's at 4:00 sharp."
Murdock smiled and reached out to squeeze Face's shoulder. "I guess family is what you make it, isn't it?" he said.
Face nodded. Despite very dim memories of someone who might have been the mother he'd lost (or who had somehow lost him), the deepest connections he'd ever felt were those he made with people who weren't related to him at all. Father Magill and the kids he'd grown up with at the orphanage. Hannibal and BA and Murdock: a father, brother, and lover all rolled up into one dysfunctional but irreplaceable family. Family he' d found along the way, who had been everything to him at the hardest times in his life and had loved him even when he couldn't love himself. And now, he knew, there was room in his heart and in his family for one more person, this young woman who had nobody else, anymore, not even someone to hate. Maybe she'd just found herself a family after all.
Even now, Hannibal was at Langley roasting a perfect turkey and reading the directions on the back of the frozen pumpkin pies they bought every year. And BA was probably dragging the Abels up to the attic to fetch the Christmas lights that he would spend the rest of the day placing perfectly around the house's roof. Murdock would do something goofy with the whipped cream and Face himself would be in charge of the wine and after-dinner drinks. And Ellen...she'd be an honored guest, plied with food, drink, and conversation, made to feel as at home as one could ever feel at the Langley compound. Maybe he could even arrange for her to meet one of the Abels when the team took turkey sandwiches to the poor guys whose shifts kept them away from their own families this year. Sullivan was an okay guy, a little sensitive for that line of work, but basically a good guy. He could see Sullivan and Ellen getting along.
He knew how to feel now. Grateful. Grateful that he hadn't buried a father he couldn't love and couldn't really grieve. Grateful that he had people who considered him family, as he considered them family. Grateful that in spite of their fight, Murdock was still by his side and still looking out for him and that now that this case was over, they could move on. He put his hand over Murdock's where it rested on his right shoulder and looked into Murdock's eyes...his expression open at last, his eyes shining with both love and sympathy. Yeah, this year he had a lot to be thankful for after all.
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