Changing Suits - Wildcard
by G Richmond
Story: Changing Suits
Status: Final Draft
Author: G. Richmond
Warnings: Mild slash, angst
Feedback levels: UP TO LEVEL 1
Feedback requests: None
Author's notes: Long final chapter
He was excited. Excited in that thrilling kind of way that was also tinged with guilt because he knew what they were doing was wrong. People could get hurt this time, but they had to know. And it had to be like this.
It had taken Face hours to convince Murdock not to walk out or hit him.
"Y-you cant do this! You cant just play with people like this." Murdock couldn't believe that this was happening. Just when he thought he was finally over him, that he had a chance at a normal life, Face changed his mind. He wanted to try again, and damnit, Murdock wanted to let him. Because he still loved him. Probably always would. And that hurt more than anything, because even if they never got back together, he realised now that he would never be over him.
"I'm not playing. Things aren't the same...everything feels wrong, Please...just give me one chance." Face implored.
"How can you say that? You're engaged!" Murdock threw out his hand as he paced.
"I panicked, Murdock, I never meant to-" He shook his head with a guilty expression, "She...she was going to leave me, she said I wasn't committed, so I panicked." I looked imploringly up at Murdock, who had finally stopped pacing and was looking down at the blond with an uncertain frown, "I..." It was obvious what he wanted to say, but he was obviously torn about admitting it to Murdock. Not after everything the pilot had been through.
"You didn't want to be alone." Murdock finished for him in a quiet voice, and Face nodded, finally looking down.
Murdock supposed if he thought about it, Face's actions made sense, although of course it didn't make him feel any better. And understanding why Face had apparently been able to move on so quick wouldn't have eased his suffering at the time.
Face couldn't be alone. If the past had taught him anything it should have been that Templeton Peck was completely incapable of being without companionship. Before, and even during, their relationship, Face had been surrounded by women (Murdock had agreed to this since it would have been suspicious if Face had suddenly stopped womanising. And Murdock had joked that it was Face's only real talent after all.) It did make sense that in a time of vulnerability he would seek out company. And that he wouldn't be able to accept rejection.
"So now you're going to leave her?" Murdock said, voice tinged with danger, and he was glad to see Face cringe a little.
"I..." He didn't have an answer, not one where he was going to come out as the good guy anyway. He was going to be leaving her, just like he had left Murdock.
Although, perhaps it wasn't exactly the same.
"It's okay." Murdock finally said quietly after a long moment, crouching down next to Face, meeting his eyes when he slowly looked up, "You were breaking women's hearts long before you met me." He gave him a vague smile that was more sad than anything else. He knew what he was thinking was wrong, and in some ways he was just as bad as Face. But for the possibility that he might get Face back, he found the feelings of one anonymous girl paled in comparison.
"Alright, I'll give you one chance."
That was a week ago. In that time he had spent most of his time still grieving over Hannibal and spoke a lot to Frankie and BA on the phone. It got easier as the days went on, and when Face called him he was ready to face the world again.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" Face asked, the uncertainty in his voice. He was obviously worried that Murdock may have changed his mind.
"When?" Face hadn't exactly been specific about the time.
"Late...say, 2200?" The conman said slowly, and Murdock couldn't help a small smile of suspicion.
"That is late." He drew out.
"Can you make it?" Face urged, and something familiar warmed in Murdock's chest. This was all so familiar.
"I suppose so." He finally agreed.
"Great. I'll pick you up." Came the hasty answer, the smile evident in his voice, "See you then." Then the phone went dead, like he had been sneaking the call without anyone knowing. Like it had been in the old days when Face would call up to Murdock's hotel room from the reception to arrange a meeting, even though their actual rooms had been right next to each other.
Murdock had spent the day leading up to their `date' in some turmoil. He was excited, granted, at the possibility of things going back to how they had been, of life going back to `normal', but was also feeling guilty. And it was eating away as his conscience. Not only were they going behind the back of Face's fiance, but he was also cheating on the girl he was supposed to be dating. Sure, they had only been going out for a couple weeks, and only been on a few dates. Nothing was really serious, and it wasn't like they had had plans for that night, but he still felt guilty.
But by the time it was nearly 10, he was more nervous than anything else, and his stomach squirmed unhappily. What if it all went wrong? What if one of them messed it up? He wasn't sure how he would deal with loosing Face all over again. Not after he had foolishly let his hopes get so high.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a car horn beep outside.
He hesitated as he pulled on his coat and saw the silly knitted hat hanging on the hook under it. Was he really any better than Face if he was so willing to leave a perfectly nice girl for someone else?
But seconds later he was out the door. Maybe what he was doing wasn't right for her, but it was right for him, because he knew in his heart that anyone else was always going to be second-best to Face. And he wasn't going to settle for second if he didn't have to.
He could tell Face was doing his best not to look nervous as Murdock walked down the path and opened the door to get into the car. He wondered if it was odd for the blond to be picking him up from the house they used to share.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds, before Murdock finally asked, "So why so late?" He pulled on his belt as Face put the car into gear and drove away from the house.
"You'll see." Murdock was glad to hear the faint smirk in Face's voice, the confidence in what he had planned. The top was down on his convertible, and the warm wind tousled their hair. Murdock had forgone wearing a hat with his shirt and smart pants, not sure what Face was going to have planned, but as the wind attacked them, he pulled out his old baseball cap from an inside pocket on his coat and pulled it down over his hair. Face glanced over when he saw the movement, and then laughed when he saw what Murdock had done. It was good to hear him laugh again.
"Do you go anywhere without that thing? It's not even sunny." He asked, still looking amused as Murdock held the hat on his head to stop it getting blown off.
"Of course not. You never know when a hat will be useful." Murdock defended, looking out to the side disinterestedly . He heard Face make an amused noise and then fell quiet.
They travelled in silence, neither of them sure if it was uncomfortable or not, although after a while, Murdock finally started getting curious about where they were going.
"Where are we going? I've never been around here before." He asked, peering around out of the car.
"We're nearly there." Face with smiling to himself, at Murdock couldn't help watching him suspiciously.
Face drove them into a small parking lot that was completely empty, and at the opposite end there was a wall topped with a set of metal railings.
"You brought me to a car park?" Murdock asked dubiously, "You really outdid yourself with this one, didn't you?" He met Face's sarcastic smile with a cheeky grin.
"Come on." Face climbed out of the car and went around to the trunk, getting out a basket nonchalantly. Immediately Murdock got excited like a child.
"We're having a picnic?" He asked, and Face grinned at the pilot's excitement.
"As long as you don't mind a bit of climbing." He started towards the wall, which had to be a good 6 feet high, with another 3 feet of railing on top. He regarded Murdock's confused look with a laugh, "Well the park isn't exactly open at this time, you know?"
It was perfect. A picnic in the park late at night with no one else. Having to essentially break in. It was just perfect. It was exciting and fun and exactly what Murdock what wanted. He could have kissed Face just out of sheer happiness at that point. Happy that Face had remembered how it used to be, and how important the thrill of a date was to the pilot. Murdock knew this wasn't Face's ideal date; the conman liked fancy restaurants with good food, preferably attached to a hotel so they didn't have to go too far for a room. And that was fun too sometimes, but given the choice, Murdock would always choose a picnic over a 5 star meal.
Face held the basket out to Murdock as they reached the wall, and he took it without question, blinking as he watched the blond scale the wall almost without effort.
"You've done this before, Faceman." Murdock grinned, holding up he basket when Face held his hand down for it, before following him up onto the wall, notably with far less grace, and he could hear Face snickering to himself.
"You obviously haven't." He teased, already over the railing, and he quickly jumped down when Murdock looked like he was going to push him.
"I'm sorry, I'm not a criminal like some people." Murdock said haughtily as he stepped over the railing, blinking and hesitating when he saw Face was offering a hand to help him down. The blond apparently didn't immediately realise what he had done, but when he did, the uncertainty crossed his face visibly. But he didn't back down, and instead just lifted his eyebrows in a questioning expression when Murdock paused.
The pilot put his hand in Face's and used it to jump down, trying not to smile, and trying not to let go too quickly.
"Oh yeah, because those helicopters just stole themselves, didn't they?" Face asked, continuing their conversation like nothing had happened, heading into the park and leaving Murdock to follow.
"Hey, that was for the good of the team, I was saving your asses." Murdock defended as he followed.
"Still doesn't mean you're innocent." Face laughed, heading up an incline.
"Yeah...well. I'm crazy..." the pilot murmured audibly.
"You were crazy. You're certifiably sane now, remember?" Face grinned, bumping his shoulder against Murdock.
"Don't remind me!" Murdock complained dramatically, looking put-out, although honestly he couldn't have been happier. Joking, laughing, being silly. It all felt so natural.
Face stopped them at the top of the incline, under the single large tree that grew there. The hill overlooked the small lake in the park, and the near-full moon reflected in the still water, "How's this?" He asked, looking to the pilot, who was distracted looking out at the few.
"It's perfect." Murdock said quietly with a smile, taking a moment to look back at Face before asking brightly, "So what food did you bring?"
"Well help me get it out and you can see." Face grinned, setting the basket down and opening it up, pulling out a thick blanket and offering one end to Murdock so they could lay it out right. They settled on the blanket, not sitting too close, and started emptying out the food, Murdock with notably more enthusiasm than Face.
The conman had brought all of the pilot's favourites, which included a large amount of candy and other junk food, "But you don't even like this!" Murdock looked worried that Face wouldn't have anything to eat, and the blond laughed, shaking his head.
"I like some of it. You always eat more than me anyway." He waved him off, pulling out the rest, and then lastly, and rather oddly, pulling out a small metal bowl.
"What's that?" Murdock asked curiously, leaning forward to watch as Face set the bowl down at the edge of the blanket and filled it from a bottle of water.
"It's a dog bowl." He said, as though it was obvious, and Murdock's eyes went visibly large.
"For Billy?" He asked through a disbelieving laugh. He couldn't believe Face had remembered.
"Of course, he'll feel left out otherwise, right?" Their first date had been a picnic, but it had been far less thought out than this one and had involved spontaneously bought food from a 7/11 and hiding amid bushes in a park at midday. Murdock had insisted that they have food and water for Billy, something Face had vehemently refused to let him do, and had resulted in the pilot ignoring him for two days until the conman apologised.
This time was different. Face was different. And they had 6 years of learning behind them, in which Face had come to realise how important Murdock's eccentricities were to him, and learned to love him for it.
"You better leave some food for him as well." Murdock said slowly, trying not to grin.
"Oh yeah, he'll only bug us otherwise." Face agreed, breaking up a ham sandwich into little, doggy-bite size piece and setting them next to bowl, "Good?" He asked the pilot, looking pleased at the enthusiastic nod he got in return.
"Looks just right."
They ate the food with happy conversation, relaxing more and more as the night drew on. As expected, Murdock was still eating long after Face had finished.
"Where do you put it all?" Face asked with a laugh as he watched Murdock eyeing up a muffin.
"Put what?" The pilot finally picked up the muffin and started pulling off pieces to eat, managing to get crumbs everywhere.
"What you eat." Face fussily started sweeping the crumbs off the blanket onto the grass, "You eat at least twice as me."
"Maybe you don't eat enough." Murdock waved Face's hands away like a child to stop him trying to be so tidy.
"I eat plenty." Face leaned back on his hands, but watched the crumbs accumulate on the blanket woefully.
"That's what you say..." Murdock was watching Face watch the mess thoughtfully. Face always was such a neat-freak, it was one of the things they always argued about. Face just couldn't leave a mess, couldn't stand to be dirty. So one of Murdock's favourite things to do was to get the blond messy, even though he knew more often than not the conman would get mad at him.
But since Face wasn't watching Murdock's hands, it really was his own fault he ended up with a half-eaten blueberry muffin pushed into his face.
"Ah!" He recoiled like Murdock had thrown a spider at him, batting at his face and flinging the muffin halfway down the hill, "Murdock!" By this point, the pilot had already cracked up laughing and shifted a good few feet away just in case the blond decided to get revenge.
"That's not funny!" Face tried to complain, but was obviously fighting laughter, especially since the pilot's mirth was so infectious, "It's not!" He was laughing by now, and threw a cookie at the pilot to try and prove he really was annoyed, when in truth he really wasn't.
"It is. It really really is." Murdock insisted, grinning brightly, trying not to snicker when he saw that Face still had a substantial amount of muffin crumbs stuck to his face, "You know, you've still got a bit..." He pointed to his face, and the blond gave him a sarcastic smile, quickly grabbing a napkin to wipe off the mess, ignoring the pilot's snickering.
"You missed a bit." Murdock pointed out when Face seemed to think he had cleaned up.
"Where?" The blond asked, wiping his face, but missing the crumb that stuck resolutely to his cheek.
"There." Murdock indicated on his own cheek where it was, but Face still missed it, until eventually he just leaned across to wipe it off himself.
They both froze as his hand made contact with Face's cheek, especially since the conman hadn't been expecting it, and they stared at each other for more than a few second. Eventually Murdock broke the silence, still not moving his hand.
"You know...I'm really trying, but I cant think how this could be more of a clich." He admitted, looking at Face as though expecting to be corrected, until eventually some of the awkwardness disappeared and they both laughed.
"If it, then you must have intended it when you shoved that muffin in my face." Face grinned as Murdock sat back, rubbing at his cheek where the pilot had touched.
"You were the one that made me do it, being all fussy about crumbs." Murdock laughed. Truthfully, however, he was distracted, and it showed in his eyes. For a moment, when they had been frozen, the idea to lean in and kiss the blonde had been almost overwhelming. And he was sure Face must have noticed.
The fact that neither of them were looking at each other now was a dead giveaway.
"This is stupid." Face said after a pregnant pause, drawing Murdock's gaze as he shifted over towards the pilot.
"I'm going to kiss you." Face told him, meeting the pilot's eyes as he leaned in. Murdock was frozen, and could think of only one thing to say.
The moment was perfect as their mouths met, and it felt so natural as Murdock leaned into the long fingers that slid into his hair. It was as though for an instant that Face hadn't left him nearly 8 months ago. That he hadn't suffered mentally and physically in his anguish. And that he hadn't moved on. He would have been happy to stay in that moment forever.
But the kiss was only brief, and as the blond slowly pulled back, a small sigh escaped the pilot before he opened his eyes. Their eyes met silently, expressions open before Face smiled, and Murdock could do nothing but return it.
They packed up the picnic soon after that, and Face hid the pieces of sandwich under the blanket before trying to convince Murdock that Billy must have eaten them.
"He cant have." Murdock finally insisted after eyeing Face suspiciously.
"And why is that? Are you saying he doesn't exist?" Face grinned teasingly.
"No." Murdock scoffed, "He cant have eaten the sandwiches, because you gave him ham, and everyone knows you need a drink with a ham sandwich. And he hasn't had any of his water." He explained smugly, and Face could only nod agreement and try not to laugh.
They finished packing up the basket and headed back down towards the wall. They walked shoulder-to-shoulder, and halfway down Murdock slipped his hand into Face's. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the blond look down in surprise, but said nothing as he curled his fingers around the pilot's.
Murdock went over the wall first this time, and Face didn't hesitate in taking the offered hand to help him down off the top, nor did he let go once down and they started towards the car. It was hardly any walk at all across to Face's corvette, but they still drew it out, and as the blond tried to let go and cross over get in, Murdock stopped him, pulling him back by their joined hands.
"Murdock?" Face looked curious but didn't resist. Murdock pulled him in close before leaning in and kissing him firmly. The blond paused in surprise for only a moment, then responded as the pilot wrapped his arms around his waist and held him tight. The kiss was longer and surer this time, tinged with relief and desperation, and Face dropped the picnic basket with a heavy thump so he could wrap his arms up around Murdock's neck.
This time when they drew apart they were both breathless, and stayed in each other's arms, resting their forehead's together.
"I've missed you." Murdock said quietly, eyes still closed, his fingers curling in the shirt over the small of the conman's back.
"I missed you too..." Face murmured, voice relieved, watching the pilot's face as his fingertip slid through the ends of his hair.
They stood there in silence for a long minute until finally Face pulled away, "Come on, let's go." He said quietly as he picked up the basket and headed around to the driver's side. The basket went in the back seat before they both climbed in, Murdock sitting closer than he had on the way there.
The drive went in comfortable silence, Murdock pulled out his hat from his coat again, getting another laugh from Face.
As they got closer to the house, however, the tension started to rise, and the uncertainty was visible on Murdock's face. As they finally pulled up outside, they both sat there in hesitance, neither sure what to say.
"Do you want to come in?" Murdock finally asked, trying to hide the hope in his voice.
Face faltered in his answer, looking past Murdock at the house, before nodding, "Yeah." He said, sounding sure. Murdock nodded to himself and got out, waiting for Face before heading up the path to the door. He could see Face was apprehensive, and he guessed he understood why; this was as much Face's house as it was Murdock's, but the blond hadn't been inside in nearly 8 months.
Murdock opened the door and lead the way in, turning on the light in the hallway. Face followed in slowly, looking around curiously, like he expected everything to be different.
Everything was almost exactly the same as it had been when he had left. There his coat peg remained empty, just waiting for him to hang his coat back up.
The door closed behind him, and he turned to say something to Murdock, only to find himself bundled into a tight embrace, and he was more than happy to reciprocate. He clung tight to the pilot, burying his face against Murdock's shoulder. He was home again.
"Do you want to never leave again?" Murdock's voice was quiet and a little hoarse, speaking with his nose buried in Face's hair. The blond's voice was watery as he answered, not lifting his head from Murdock's shoulder.
A/N: Wow, that's probably the first multi-chaptered story I've finished. It's not perfect, and there's probably glaring errors and the like, but I enjoyed writing it, and it's not intended to be a refined piece of literature. Just for fun.
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