He knows how this will go.
It has happened so many times before that it has just become another weapon or shield, another bargaining chip. He knows how screwed up he is, to think of sex this way, but he stopped thinking long ago that anyone might want him…in a way he had often heard of, had found out other people thought about being wanted that way. Before it…happened… the first time, when he was too young to really consider it as any more than a passing thought.
No one wanted a crazy, broken creature for a mate. Passing dalliances to release tension? Sure. They wouldn’t end up anywhere.
The question of whether he really wants to whore himself out to this man is not an issue. The issue is power.
When he’s in the sky, he has all the power. He can decide whether the occupants will have a smooth ride (though, as training school showed him, there are different definitions of this), what targets to shoot, whether or not he will fly the set course…
On the ground, power is always in someone else’s hands. Ambivalent doctors. Stronger patients. Orderlies with the same world view of their patients (harem). In there to get what he wants, he has to give of himself. Because to give away power is to gain back some control. Not always. Sometimes. But control is always so fleeting that he can’t bear not to snatch at the opportunity. It isn’t as if it won’t be taken anyway. Power is…currency.
And so, the golden opportunity. A man, a colonel, needs his special skills. He gives them, receives power in return. And understanding. A team like this, and this man asked specifically for him. This man could give him more power, more control. But only if the man kept him.
So it falls to him to make absolutely sure the man keeps him. Absolutely sure. After all…
He knows this game.
And so, not too long after that daring escape from Mexico, he slides into a booth beside that man at a bar no one thinks to look for him at. He makes small talk, babbling about nothing as that stiffness leaves the man’s muscles at being found out. Then he makes a very daring (by military standards) proposition to the man. This man blushes and coughs, which he would find endearing had he not discovered so long ago that connections like that hurt worse than the act.
They order another drink they never even get to tasting as they talk. He knows what buttons to push, to make himself approachable, accessible, obvious. The man isn’t used to taking home other officers, but there is a light in his eyes that Murdock is unfamiliar with but attributes it to a new pain he has yet to catalog. Not even experts could know absolutely everything.
And so the conversation wraps up on a heated note. The man stands up, leads the way out. They walk several blocks before hailing a cab.
It won’t be long now. More than likely, when they reach this man’s home and the doors are locked, he will regret his decision but pretend he enjoys it. Because this may be the time that giving up all of the power he has leads to the control he so desperately needs.
They are at a sensible one story home before he can think more of it. This man doesn’t live on base-easier access to what he needs. The man pays the cabbie extra tip for working so late. Good tippers are hard to remember when questions arise.
The walk up the sidewalk with the slightly overgrown flowers, and for a moment Murdock wonders if they are happier living without fear of shears.
A hand on his arm, and he follows the man into the house. It’s warm, warm tone of brown and green and blue. Calming. Very simple, not too much to assault the senses. Easier to focus, which in itself could be terrifying.
He’s asking a question. Murdock looks at him in surprise. Usually as the doors lock, questions stop. At least, the ones he has to answer.
The man holds up a bottle of …whiskey. He accepts the tumbler, and they stand a moment, savoring the taste.
And that light is back, and a feather light touch rests on the side of his face. The man leans down, and kisses him.
It is nothing like he expects.
For once, it doesn’t hurt. There is no yanking of his hair, no bruising, choking grip on his neck, no biting of his lips to force his mouth open. Just a kiss. Just a gentle kiss.
He feels sick.
There was a person once who did this. Came on gentle, ended the night in blood and horrifying degradation. After that, he always felt relief when the violence started at the beginning.
He responds though, because to not respond would stop this. And there was no telling what would happen if he stopped. He hadn’t stopped the last time and he knew how that went-he’d rather stay with the devil he remembered.
The feather weight on his cheek slides up into his hair and pulls him closer, gently. The kiss deepens. Murdock allows his psyche to float detached from his body, a trick he learned after the first few dozen times…it made things so much easier when he didn’t have to feel what the other man was doing, muted pain, muted everything.
A shy, soft, hopeful voice in the very darkest part of his mind whispers that it feels good to be touched like this, just so. But he can barely hear it. Most of the time he doesn’t hear it at all.
The man’s other arm wraps around him, pulling him flush against a rock-hard, muscular body. He has been in this position before, usually in grips designed to break bones if he struggled.
But this one feels a little different. Like he could pull away. But that’s just an illusion-like that time.
Even as detached as he is, when that warm hand slides up under his shirt, he can’t suppress a shiver. The man is smiling against his lips at this response, and he knows its time.
Time for the charade to be over with, time for the leopard to show his spots, for the monster to come out from under the bed-
He blinks rapidly for a moment and realizes his mind was about to spiral down a very bad path. The man is looking at him with…is that concern?…written on his face.
He smiles. Ever since he was five, when his mother died and people kept on asking him if he was okay living with his uncles and grandparents, when all he wanted to do was scream, he smiled. A smile with no guile, as his grandma would say. The reassuring smile that everyone believed.
“Sorry Colonel…got a bit sidetracked with what you were doing. Care to do it again?” Flirtatious was the key for some, fear for others. This one hadn’t asked for fear yet.
“James…are you alright?” This man is addressing him now, the inner floating psyche. It’s unnerving, and he wishes it would stop, that they’d just get down to business and get it over with, because he doesn’t want to feel those sorts of horrible connections.
“Absolutely.” He purrs, leans up for a kiss. “Let’s keep going.”
He presses his own against this man, allowing for the surprised grunt as their lips found a rhythm. He immediately allows for the man to take control (power) away from him and dominate the kiss. This man presses him back until his own back connects against the solid surface of a wall. There, the man continues to kiss, but less insistent. When he breaks the kiss again to look into Murdock’s eyes, Murdock begins to feel unsure. What exactly was the kind of pain waiting at the end of this? Even the last time had not carried beyond that first touch before it came to the inevitable conclusion.
“Are you sure?” The man prompts, his eyes dark with desire but steady and calm.
The question is absolutely terrifying.
He has never played this game before.
“Colonel…” He reassures as best he can while keeping the terror and turmoil smoothly tucked under layers of sincerity, “You are-”
“Pardon?” The surprise is real.
“We’ve been this far, I think you should call me John.”
No. Nonononono. To call him John would be to assign an identity to his tormentor. He stopped doing that a long time ago. It was easier when they were just shadows that asked him horrible things and took things from him, not real people.
“John.” His face still stays serene, but there are cracks in his armor now, and suddenly he’s right there, face to face with John, can smell him, can feel his heat and everything is real in a way that crushes any hope he has of keeping himself detached from this. “I am absolutely sure.”
John leans in close and whispers into his ear. “I want you.”
“We can do whatever you want.” Came Murdock’s reply. He expected it to cause John to drop this frightening game, but instead John kissed the side of his neck.
“I want to know what you want too.” A light nuzzle to the neck. He forces himself to stay relaxed. “Bedroom.”
“Of course!” His tone is light and playful, so John can see he still is going along with their game. He wants John to keep him…
And there it is. The feeling of connection. Its too damn easy for him to feel connections. He knows this will hurt him, damage him even further into the broken animal everyone sees, but its too late to back away. There is no stopping these games. Ever.
But he allows those arms to wrap around him, to guide him into another room, to be shut in. He pulls off his Hawaiian shirt and is about to start on the one underneath when two arms wrap around him from behind. Lips are on his neck again, and John is stroking up and down his sides. The feel of warmth through the fabric causes him to shudder again, and those lips on the back of his neck curve again.
He almost wonders if he has gone to hell, where the pleasant gentle feelings will be with him for all eternity, until he actually accepts them, and then this will unfold like he believed it would at the beginning.
He obeys and John pulls his shirt off, hands returning to caress where they had been before. This time the sensation is a bit much and he arches into it, unfamiliar touches causing his head to spin slightly. This is terrible…strange.
The warm hands are suddenly gone and for a moment there is a flicker of terror that this will end up exactly as he believed it would, which is even more frightening because it meant the amount of work he put into preparing himself was on the verge of shattering.
And a gentle murmur is in his ear as two powerful arms bring him back against a bare chest. It’s warm and alien, and he shivers. A gentle kiss and more nonsense reassuring words from John, and he knows that he came totally unprepared for this.
“I won’t leave.” A quiet whisper slips through Murdock’s defenses. “You won’t be alone.”
He’s not sure how he should take that, so he says nothing. Better to say nothing, maybe this would devolve into something he understood.
John appears to enjoy gentle touching, something his traitorous, gentle-touch-starved body is taking advantage of. So he lets his body do the talking while he scrambles to put his defenses back up. He should be able to multitask, was proud of the ability, but something about John (damn the connections) was keeping him from success.
One of the hands is moving lower now, gently undoing his pants as he feels everything. His traitorous body has been doing things other than arching, because he can feel John’s fingers wrapping around his member and stroking gently. The feel of a touch like this is so strange, so alien, that he’s suddenly lost. He can’t think, can’t move, can feel himself not breathing…
“James?” The voice by his ear is concerned again. He wants to cry. He no longer understands what’s going on. This touch, this game…he can’t play it anymore, not like he is.
“Sorry,” Soft, shy. “Been awhile.”
“I’ll go slow.” A murmured promise that, heaven help him, he believed. “We won’t do anything you don’t want. Do you want to keep going?”
The tone from John is steady, but he can feel the power behind him, the hardness pressing into him. He’s scared of what will happen if he says no.
Caught between the rocks and a hard place. Caught between the fear of what John will do if he stops, and the fear of what will happen if he lets this go on, this gentle, insidious game. The fear of growing attached to a man that could destroy him.
“James?” More concerned now.
He can’t trust his voice now. Instead, he hesitantly wraps a hand around the one still wrapped around him, and gently begins to move with it. The hand returns to the gentle stroking and his body arches into it.
“Tell me if you need to stop.” The voice is still concerned, stern.
He nods, unable to tell John that he can’t stop these games. He doesn’t have the power.
Between the lips on his neck and the hand stroking him to hardness, he’s lost all power in this situation. He would lament it, if he hadn’t expected it to happen. Just…not like this.
So many years of being used and thrown aside and suddenly this man is tearing him to pieces by just…touching. It takes all of his strength to keep up the charade.
The fingers move just so, and a moan slips from his mouth. It wasn’t supposed to. He always made sure to make those types of noises at carefully calculated times. John does it again, and he can’t help but to moan in kind.
His last few articles of clothes are leaving him, with John’s insistent tugs. There is a quiet desperation in the man behind him now, one that he vaguely can recognize but hasn’t felt in this particular type.
John presses him forward, gentle still as he maneuvers them both onto the bed, still with his fingers wrapped around Murdock. The gentle stroking has Murdock arching back into the powerful body above him. He can’t help it as his body shudders and moans, playing this game for him while he struggles to keep the fear and terror off his face.
“James…” A whisper in his ear. Damn the man for saying his name so much, for grounding him in this situation, no way to put space between them for when this all went horribly wrong. “Oh James…”
“Please…” At first he doesn’t realize the uncertain voice is his own.
“What is it? What do you need?”
Terror floods him as his body arches up, He didn’t mean to say anything, not to ask anything. He’s broken the rules of the game, he knows it.
“Shh….What do you need?” That insistent question is so honest that the answer slips out without Murdock being able to censor it.
“Please don’t stop…touching me like this.” His voice is shaky and his body arches again, begging for more of that gentle contact.
It will end now. He admitted he wants those gentle touches, and now he’ll wake to find himself in Hell…
“I won’t.” The heated reply against his neck, the other arm wrapping around his waist to press them together as close as possible. Kisses peppering across his shoulders and back now as John removes his hand from Murdock’s member to pull at his own clothes, made nearly impossible by the arm he still has wrapped around the smaller man’s waist. He feels John remove his pants and kick them off the bed and suddenly he can feel John everywhere, gentle heat covering his body, hard against his thigh. John’s hands are moving across his body, stroking, so gentle and firm, so absolutely different from what he came here to receive.
He hears a strange noise and before he can place it, John’s hand has wrapped around him again, coaxing out the moans from a moment prior. The feel is slightly different…slick, and it feels different…just as good.
The breach is unexpected because it doesn’t hurt. He’s had prep before, usually clumsy and painful, but this is much like everything John has been doing to him tonight. He might have felt fear, had not John done something with his fingers that caused his body to arch up hard with electric pleasure. The moan that tore from his throat mixed with John’s quiet laughter. Usually when people start laughing behind him, it means things are about to take a turn for the worse, but the parts of his brain that keep him aware of these things switched off as the pleasure ran through his body again and again.
Unable to keep his weight up on shaky arms, he falls to his elbows letting the feel off the sheets give him a bit of solid reality to cling to. John continues to work at him with the fingers, causing shudders and moans to slip unbidden from him.
The fingers withdraw, and he moans at the loss. He can feel John moving him gently into another position, sliding a pillow under him, surreal in its execution.
Then the heat is gone, and that harsh whisper of panic and fear is back.
It is silenced just as suddenly by John running his soaked hair back and whispering into his ear.
“Are you ready? Do you still want this?”
“…Yes…” The answer comes out uncensored, just as before. He can’t help it, and as John peppers kisses down his back again, he knows he has no power over his own body anymore.
When John presses inside of him, he can barely feel discomfort. The warmth and feel of being stretched with no pain makes him confused for a moment, unsure of how to react. When John is fully seated inside of him, he stops, settling powerful hands onto hips before him.
Murdock has never in his life felt so vulnerable. This is the point where he could be destroyed, where if John shows his true colors he could do nothing but shatter and break. He’s at the mercy of John, and he can’t escape into his head because John is so good at grounding him here in the present.
He feels John take a deep breath and the action causes him to shudder. John’s grip tightens on him, but not hard. The bigger man begins to move, changing position slightly each time.
He can’t understand really why John would do such a thing until a thrust causes him to cry out as the world explodes into white. He gasps and his cock twitches painfully against the pillows.
John rumbles, pleased with himself as he hits the spot again. And again, and again,
As his mind shakes apart under the onslaught of pleasure, his body can’t help but to start arching into the thrusts. It’s the first time he’s ever felt this way during sex. All he can feel is pleasure and warmth, and he can’t help but to cry out, over and over again.
The feelings and pleasure build up higher and higher, each burst of pleasure wiping away everything until the only thought that remained was John…
And his vision whites out and everything slips into black for a few moments, and the only thing he can hear is the harsh breathing of John by his ear complementing his own. His body isn’t reacting to his commands anymore, not even to the shock of realizing that he’s had sex without feeling like trash afterwards. On the contrary, he feels…warm. And tired. And he can barely register John sliding out and kissing him before he’s lost to the world.
He won’t mistake this for heaven.
John is breathing against his neck, soft air caressing him as he lies feigning sleep. He learned long ago that to stay absolutely still was a mistake, that this body language practically screamed his awareness to his bed partner. When he understood this, he trained his body to mimic every move he had in sleep during these waking moments. It allowed him precious time to marshal his defenses against the next onslaught.
This is …was…an attack he has no preparation for. No defense. Even after the act had taken place, the feeling of contentment and warmth had remained. His body is relaxed, and he can’t help but feel a little bit…safe, in the arms wrapped around his waist and chest.
It makes him sick.
This…John…no, no, this man, is no different from the rest. He can’t be. Not where Murdock is concerned.
He knows there is no way he can hope to have this gentleness. Either this is a terrible game, designed to lead him into false hope, or it’s some terrible mistake that when discovered, will lead to the inevitable conclusion of being torn up and abandoned and worse, sent back.
The thought of being sent back makes his breathing quicken, breaking the illusion he had crafted. John’s arms tighten around him, words muttered reassuringly at him.
“…alright…S’just a dream.” John’s voice is laced with sleep. “Go back to sleep, beautiful.”
It isn’t a struggle to control the fear, because John’s voice has a calming effect on him. Did in Mexico, still does now, like magic. But now there’s something else worming into his thoughts.
He was just called beautiful. By the man in bed with him that has fallen back asleep.
Murdock is a very smart man. He knows this, the doctors know this, his partners would know if they had cared to care. He understands people. And he is beginning to understand John.
The gentle sex with no pain. The reassuring words. A night of passion ended with being wrapped up in another’s embrace.
John doesn’t want him. No one wants him, not like that.
John can’t even see him. If he did, the words he would use would not encompass or even relate to ‘Beautiful.’
He’s just a placeholder…for what John really wants. Something he can’t have.
As he comes to these conclusions, he also comes to the conclusion that John may not be playing games with him. At least, not a game that was meant to hurt him physically. John is…transferring desires onto him.
John wants someone else, someone he can’t use like he can use the creature in his bed.
It has to be Peck. Of all the acquaintances he’s seen John around, only Peck can be called beautiful.
John is using him as a substitute for Peck. That is the game. He has to be a good substitute, or John will be angry and the pain will return or he’ll be sent back. That’s so very clear now.
He can live with that.
He has been kept for four months, two weeks, three days. It is the longest he has been able to stay out of some hospital institution in almost ten years.
And he can’t live like this anymore.
The team is…better than he could have dreamed. They accept him, which is something he has never truly felt before. He and Face and Bosco have a good relationship, something akin to friendship, which is strange as both Face and Bosco have no sexual inclination towards him. Usually he’d be afraid of such connections, but they have a way of getting under his skin and staying there.
John and his protectiveness. John and his ability to anchor Murdock to the world, to chase other more horrible demons away. John and his gentleness…
It will kill him. It has to stop.
Even if it sends him back, because the way things are now…those connections…
And so when they come back from another training mission, and he finds himself inside John’s house again, while John talks about things that don’t register in his panicked mind, his control that he has so tenuously collected begins to fray.
“You can go to him.”
John stops, confused. This was not the logical progression of the conversation.
Murdock continues, his mouth running uncensored. John does that to him. He can’t hide, no longer wants to hide it all.
“He won’t turn you away. He’ll let you, because you’re you. You don’t have to use me as a substitute.”
There is shock on John’s face now. “What in the hell are you talking about?!”
“Peck.” This one word should be enough to break this fantasy John has created, but only confusion crosses his face.
“What about Face?”
“You love him. But you think you can’t be with him. But that’s not true, you’re you, and if you ask he’d probably say yes. I don’t see why he couldn’t.”
“James.” A growl. A warning. But he can’t stop. He can’t, because this will kill him, and while at one time that was alright it isn’t anymore.
“I can’t be a substitute. It hurts, and if I keep doing it I’ll disappear because you don’t see me, you can’t, you see someone else, you don’t see me-”
The grip on his shoulders is tight and he’s being shaken a bit. “James!”
The force and the tone of voice causes his breath to catch and his voice to stop. He’s gone too far, and there will be pain, but at least that pain will actually be directed at him, not some fantasy.
“What are you talking about?!” John’s eyes are boring into him now.
Is this another aspect of the game?
“Why are you saying these things?” He demands, grip still strong, anchoring Murdock to him.
“Because I can’t be someone else for you anymore. I have enough trouble being myself.” The honest reply only seems to upset John more.
“I don’t want Face. He’s my lieutenant, my friend, nothing else! Where are you getting these ideas?”
“You said I was beautiful. It was obvious who you were talking to.” Murdock couldn’t keep the despair out of his voice. Because it isn’t just because he can’t stand being someone else.
John is speechless. His eyes are hurt, and that sticks Murdock like a knife. He didn’t want to hurt John, just get out of this terrible situation.
“You can send me back if you need to.” Anything to ease the hurt in those eyes.
A flicker goes across John’s face. He has just thought of something, something he apparently doesn’t like as his fingers dig harder into the smaller man’s shoulders.
“When we met at the bar that night…what did you want, Captain?”
Formality. John is angry.
“I wanted…you to keep me.”
More confusion passes over John’s face. It encompasses the anger, so he feels obligated to explain.
“I didn’t want to go back. You had the power to make me stay. I just had to make it worth your while.” He smiles crookedly at John’s face. “I won, for awhile. Then I couldn’t win anymore.”
“Is this a game to you?” John hisses at him, rage flaring in his eyes.
The answer is simple. And it will destroy this illusion, and then he’ll understand the world again.
John’s face morphs interestingly between rage and fury and confusion to mounting horror. He can’t understand why this is so difficult. He has broken the rules, destroyed the game…he will be cast out.
“Why?” The question catches him off guard. He’s confused. Hannibal has been playing this game with him. Shouldn’t he know all of this?
“Why did you let me do this to you? For this long?” John’s voice is full of guilt and self-loathing. He’s heard it in his own voice before, not in his partners.
“Because I wanted you to keep me.” Is it so hard to understand?
“You wanted…” John’s hands slip from his shoulders and suddenly the man seems broken. John Hannibal Smith seems broken.
Oh god, what has he done? He should have just let this continue, falling apart would be better than witnessing this.
“You’re telling me that you let me take you home and…and fuck you so that you wouldn’t have to go back to Mexico. And on top of that, you think that I’m using you as a replacement for Templeton fucking Peck.”
He wants to correct him, that fucking Templeton Peck is what he’s being substituted for. But he’s afraid to speak.
“You…what the FUCK were you thinking?!”
He flinches. He has never been on the receiving end of John’s anger, not once, and he’s a bit frightened now. John advances on him, and he finds himself with his back against the wall, eerily reminiscent of their first night.
“WELL? Speak up CAPTAIN!” Hands plant on either side of his body, cutting off escape. Not that he would go anywhere, because he deserves this.
Suddenly he feels like that first night. The game is ended and he has no clue what to do now. He wants to cry again, to ask John to forgive him, but this is so beyond forgiveness that to even suggest it would be suicide.
“Why would you do something like that…like this?” John is glaring down at him.
“Because it worked before.” He manages after a few dry swallows. “And it worked this time too.”
“Why are you stopping this now? Are you tired of your little game?” John spat.
The confusion is swimming in his head now, fracturing and splintering. “I’m stopping because I can’t be Face anymore. I can’t stand being someone else, and-” The rest catches in his throat.
“I can’t stand that none of it is directed at me. I feel things for you, and you want someone else.” If anything will get him back to Mexico, it will be that truth.
The look of horror on John’s face gives him mental pause. It’s sincere, the horror, the pain, the guilt, the pity.
What’s going on?
“You…you…” John is speechless. “You let yourself…and you thought…”
The arms pinning him in place at the wall shakily remove themselves. There is so much emotion running through John that it causes his whole body to shake.
He doesn’t move. He’s frightened and confused, because like most things with John, everything he’s planned is useless. John strips him of every defense, and-
The sudden movement causes him to tense and he’s ready for the beating, the pain, but it doesn’t come. Instead, he’s pressed against the chest of his commander, his John. He allows that familiar warmth to cover him, because this may be the last time..
“James…James…I always saw you.”
The words are the truth, just like saying that planes were freedom. It registers in his mind as such, and there is no room for doubt, because John said it, and he hadn’t lied to him once while they were like this…
Oh no. No. No. No. No. No.
John isn’t playing games. John saw him, actually saw him when they were in bed, when they were having sex.
The gentleness had been for him.
He shattered. He cried, like he had wanted to do that first night. Tried to burrow into that warmth.
John will leave him. John will throw him out for being an awful, conniving, self-serving animal. John will send him back to Mexico, because he was so screwed up he didn’t think, didn’t realize, didn’t know, didn’t know, didn’t KNOW-
“No, no I won’t. James, I won’t send you back.”
Had he been voicing those thoughts?
A hand under his jaw lifts his face to look into John’s. There is still so much pain there. Pain he put there.
“You are a valuable member of my team. I wouldn’t have sent you back even if we hadn’t met at that bar. I’m not like that. I’m not that person you think I am, James.”
He knows that now.
“I care for you. Not Temp. You. I think you are beautiful. I want you.”
Those words are unexpectedly painful.
“But this is going to stop.”
Agony. He’s lost something that could have, was, something wonderful.
“You will only come to me if you want me, not because you want to stay out of hospitals or anything else. You will never do that again. Ever. You don’t have to do that anymore, and if someone tries to make you, you will tell me. And I will deal with it.”
John’s arms are wrapping around him, solid and protective. This isn’t over, not by a long shot, but he can’t help but to cling to the larger man. The tears keep coming, but over pain that he hurt John or relief that John hasn’t totally shut him out and abandoned him, he can’t tell.
But right now, John can see him. John is kissing the top of his head, arms wrapping around his body, protecting him from the world and thoughts that have been torturing him.
And he thinks, maybe, he can live with that.