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unsafe, insane, dishonest

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The first night at a new motel is always an edgy experience. The adrenaline from the chase and the lingering uncertainty as to whether they’ve actually gotten away hangs on all of them for a long time after they’ve done three perimeter checks and ensured everyone’s physical wellbeing and set up a watch rota. It burns, tickles, aches, throbs, veins thrumming and hearts pounding, eyes wide and wild, clammy hands grasping for each other and slipping apart. The first night is always like this, but tonight it’s worse.

Hannibal took a bullet this time, and it’s put everything even more on the brink. He’s fine, of course, he’s always fine, he always will be, but Murdock’s teeth keep chattering and Bosco keeps muttering curses to himself and Face keeps gasping for breath and curling in on himself like he’s the one with the shrapnel still in his hip. Hannibal is the only one actually keeping it together, which is unfortunate, because he’s the one whacked on stolen medication and about to pass the fuck out in one of the twin beds. He’s not smiling, not quite, but he’s watching them through glazed, fading eyes with a small quirk to his mouth.

Face has first watch, because he’s the one who they all know for sure won’t sleep tonight. He’s high on his own panic, riding the waves of shock and horror and rage all the way to sunrise. Hannibal got shot, but Face nearly died, throwing caution to the wind to get back to his CO as soon as he realised Hannibal wasn’t with them. He doesn’t know how he must’ve looked, clawing his way across the dusty warehouse floor, lashing out at anyone who tried to stop him, beyond caring if they were friendly or not. Hannibal’s furious at him, they all probably are, but Face refuses to apologise for anything, even insincerely. It was dangerous, reckless, worrying, but he’d rather die like that than do nothing in that situation.

Hannibal passes out before Bosco gets the bullet out, so the big guy continues with careful precision, although it’s highly unlikely the boss will resurface any time soon, even if Bosco does nearly stab him with the fork.

Face knows better than to think he’s safe, though. Hannibal might have been on the brink of smiling when his heavy eyes fell shut, but no doubt the enraged chewing out will come later, after he’s awake, and conscious, and able to talk about anything other than how the flickering lightbulb in the room looks and sounds like dozens of lovely little fireflies. Murdock had agreed with him enthusiastically, the two of them discussing it for a few moments before Hannibal had drifted away, while Bosco bit back a laugh, getting the DIY bullet extraction kit together, and Face had stood by the window and chewed his thumb, staring at that flickering firefly lightbulb until his eyes stung and streamed, long after Hannibal’s breathing evens out.

Bosco falls asleep next, exhausted to the bone, passes out without even cleaning Hannibal’s blood from his hands, even though he’d managed to give the unprofessional equipment a pretty shitty attempt at a sterilisation in the bathroom sink – the best they can do, under the circumstances. He’s sat with his arms folded in the only armchair in the small, grimy room. His head hangs down onto his chest, and he’s going to curse up a storm over the pain in his neck tomorrow, but for now he’s blissfully dead to the world.

By the time Face takes his place at the window, knelt in front of the blinds with his elbows resting on the tiny windowsill, Murdock is curled up in a ball at the end of Hannibal’s bed, the second twin option totally ignored, one hand under his head and the other wrapped loosely around Hannibal’s covered ankle. Anchored. Face looks back over his shoulder to check on them periodically, until his knees ache and he’s sure they’re all asleep, and then he gets back to his feet.

He takes another long look out the window and then spends a while forcing the catch. He doesn’t know if it’s stuck itself from lack of use or it’s been deliberately fixed together, but eventually, teeth gritted tightly and fingertips scraped and a little bloody, he gets the damn thing open.

When he moves across the room he’s almost silent, crossing over to the small table next to the bed where Hannibal discarded his jacket. For a moment he pauses, thumbs over the cool, damp wet patch where the blood seeped through. He looks at the sleeping Colonel and feels his heartbeat speed up again, lungs tightening, and forces it back down. He looks back at the jacket and moves his hand to the inside pocket, still unzipped, his fingers expertly dodging the switchblade tucked away inside to retrieve Hannibal’s cigar tin and matches. Prize in hand, he returns to the window, pushing it open further and and leaning against the frame, lighting up.

Hannibal took a bullet. He can’t stop thinking about it, can’t stop picturing the moment. He takes a long drag, listens to the familiar sound of the paper burning down, and breathes slowly out into the cool night air. Hannibal hasn’t been shot since LA, usually it’s Face himself grinning inanely through the pain of getting a bullet removed from his body with pliers or tweezers. And LA was different. LA was all part of the plan, although that doesn’t mean Face didn’t come close to throwing up at the sound of gunshots and knowing Hannibal was down. But still, it had nothing on tonight.

The smoke burns his throat just right, a much needed distraction and a much welcomed familiarity. Face has lost hours of his life sat in the dark in some off the cuff shithole city somewhere surrounded by cigar smoke. He thinks maybe if Hannibal died, he’d be expected to take over as the leader of their ragtag group of outlaws. He thinks maybe he’d rather turn himself in.


He jerks around so quickly he skims his arm with the end of the cigar, hissing at the fleeting burn and scowling at himself before he turns his attention to Murdock, now sat up on the edge of the bed, running one hand through his hair and peering at Face in barely disguised concern. Face thought he was being quiet, was certain his movements weren’t loud enough to disturb any of the others. Fuck, maybe he’s been thinking too loud again. Murdock always seems to pick up on that.

“Hey buddy,” he says, voice quiet, low. Roughened by the smoke, too. “Trouble sleeping?”

Murdock hums, gets to his feet and stretches. He looks down at Hannibal and his face twists for a moment, so Face reaches out towards him and gestures for him to come over. He does, picking his way across the room.

“You were thinkin’ too loud again,” he says as he reaches the window and sits against the windowsill, touching his fingers to Face’s briefly, either failing to notice the blood or failing to care about it.

“Yeah,” Face says, taking a drag of the cigar. “I thought I might be.”

“I can always tell, you know that. Your thoughts talk to mine.”

“I know. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Murdock shrugs. “‘S’okay. Now you got someone to talk to. Tell Doctor Murdock all your worries and woes, my friend.”

Face almost cracks a smile at that, can feel one corner of his mouth starting to curl as Murdock looks at him. He doesn’t say anything though, just takes another drag of the cigar. Murdock shifts, angling his whole body towards Face.

“Face, c’mon. You only smoke when it’s real bad, same’s I scratch. Talk to me.”

Face is bad at this though. After all these years he’s definitely gotten better, especially considering – well, it’s Murdock. But he’s still not good at actually opening up, letting people in. He’s not vulnerable, ever. He’s not allowed to be, no matter how many times the others assure him he is.

“Obviously it’s real bad, Murdock. How can it not be real fucking bad? How did you even get to sleep? How is Bosco still out of it? How can you shut your eyes and not see…”

“I know, Faceman, but it’s all gonna be alright, you know that, don’t you?” He’s using his gentle, placating voice, which is often the right call, because a lot of the time it does help, but right now…

Face scowls at him. “Yeah, this time. What do we do, Murdock, when he doesn’t open his eyes again? What happens to us then?” He stops, swallows hard, clenches one hand into a fist so tightly that his fingernails dig into his palm, and he knows he’ll have little red lines embedded there for a while. “What happens to me without him, buddy?”


“He almost died!” He’s still keeping quiet, but growing increasingly animated, snapping the words out in a whisper, gesturing furiously, catching the cigar on his arm again and flinching. “Motherf–”

“Face, stop.”

Murdock’s dropped the placating tone, he’s using that voice now, and Face obeys instantly, falling still and looking at him with wide eyes. Murdock reaches out and pulls one hand through Face’s unkempt hair, tugging a little. Face takes a deep breath and nods, the tension slowly leaking out of his shoulders.

“I. Sorry.”

“Bossman is fine. Sure, we all got all shook up over it, but there’s a whole hell of a difference between taking a bullet and kicking the bucket.” Murdock cracks a smile. “You know that better than any of us.”

Face huffs a laugh and takes another drag of the cigar. Murdock glances down at the accidental burns on his arm and he quickly shifts it from view. “I’m okay.”

“Yeah yeah yeah. You’re always okay.”

There’s a bizarre combo of mockery, exasperation, and fondness in Murdock’s voice, but the words themselves are true. He’s Lieutenant Peck, Hannibal Smith’s right hand man, and he’s many things and many people, but he is never not totally okay.

So he relaxes and drops the dying cigar out of the window, extending one leg and kicking his booted foot lightly against Murdock’s bare one. And after a moment Murdock huffs a laugh and nudges back.

Murdock’s stuck in a delusion.

It’s hard to tell if the others have noticed it. Bosco spoke to his mother that morning, so he’s distracted, and a moment after Face looks at Murdock and realises, Hannibal finishes talking, and Bosco leaves the room. Face assumes, then, that he hasn’t noticed, which is fine, and he’s not about to blame him for shifting his priorities for once. Hannibal is in the middle of setting up a meet with a client, so he’s distracted, too. Remarkably, for once, Face is the only one who isn’t distracted, because his usual distraction is staring into space (or at the wall, an argument could be made for either, which really isn’t a priority right now) and mouthing something to himself, lips moving fast and no sound coming out, although Face thinks from the small amount of lip reading he’s learned so far that Murdock isn’t speaking English.

Definitely not with them, then. Which is as bad for the team as it is for Murdock himself, because they kind of need everyone running on all cylinders for this one. Face isn’t entirely sure if Murdock’s having a delusion or dissociating, but either way, it isn’t ideal.

He knows what to do, but he kind of has to do it in private, because they all have different methods for dealing with Murdock, that are personal and individual, and it’s often key to their success that the other members of the team don’t know them. Face bites his lip and looks around, but Murdock’s mouth is moving faster, and he has to act soon. The only plan he can think of to get Murdock out onto the porch of the safehouse is far from perfect.

But hey, fuck perfection, desperate times and all that.

And their times are pretty much 24/7 desperate these days, so it’ll have to do.

He stands suddenly, and that actually makes Hannibal look up from his map, thoughtful frown slipping as his eyes fix on Face. Face shakes his head at the boss, and discreetly gestures to Murdock, pointing out the situation but reassuring the boss that he has it covered; he just needs Hannibal to not pay attention to them. And from those two tiny movements and the slight curl of Face’s lip and wrinkle of his brow, Hannibal gets it, like he always gets his boys, like he always gets Face, nods once and returns his attention to the plan. Face takes a breath and fixes his posture, looming over Murdock’s chair with his hands on his hips.

“Captain Murdock!” He uses the voice he hates using, the voice he wanted to leave behind in the army but for some reason keeps discovering uses for it.

Like this . At the harsh, barked words, Murdock jumps to his feet, although thankfully he doesn’t salute, hands instead clenched into shaking fists at his sides.

“S-sir, yes sir. Captain Murdock, as you requested.”

“Jesus Christ soldier, look at the state of you!” Murdock flinches at the words, lost in the illusion of the environment Face is building, and Face knows it’s real to Murdock right now, knows that he’s taking the reprimand to heart and that his reaction is genuine, even if the words aren’t. Wow, Face really hates this. “Follow me, now. Try to keep up.”

And he turns and marches out of the kitchen, through the backdoor and onto the porch, confident without turning around that Murdock is following.

He shuts the door behind them and looks at Murdock for a moment. His eyes are wide and attentive, but they're blank as the clean slates they’re all still dreaming of. Glassy, too. His fists are still shaking. Face drops the act now he’s got Murdock outside, slowly reaching out and taking Murdock’s biceps in a gentle grip. Murdock doesn’t react at all as Face shifts him, moving in time so Murdock is backed against the wall of the house. Face looks him in his unseeing eyes and speaks again, voice low and completely him this time.

“Hey there buddy. You in there?”

No response.

“I’m gonna help you out, okay? Just remember that it’s me, alright? My name is Templeton Peck, most people call me Face, and I’m your best friend in the whole goddamn world, yeah?”

He glances down to make sure his foot is in the right place, then looks into Murdock’s eyes again.

“Alright buddy, come on home.”

He kicks forward gently, his foot meeting Murdock’s at the toes, then he moves it, nudging from the right this time, then the toes, then the left, then three short taps on the top of Murdock’s foot. Then he takes a step back, knowing better than to crowd him, and waits.

It takes a little while – not too long, but Face knows better now than to expect it to be instantaneous. A few more mouthed words, then a couple with sound, barely murmured. One fist stops shaking, then the other. And then finally his eyes, and Face relaxes into a slow, easy grin as Murdock blinks and comes home.

“How you doing Murdock?”

Murdock jerks his head a little, shaking off the unreality like a dog shakes off a few raindrops. Then he gives a smile that's equally shaky and follows it with a small nod.

“Was it a bad one?”

He’s not fully expecting Murdock to answer verbally, because that doesn’t always happen straight away, and that’s fine. Instead he just lifts one shoulder in a loose shrug and keeps looking directly at Face.

“You need anything?”

He lifts his shoulder again and his fingers clench and unclench repeatedly. Confident that it’s safe to do so again, Face moves back into Murdock’s personal space and lets the pilot take hold of his wrists, feeling the pulse ticking away beneath his skin. He still doesn’t seem ready to talk, taking long, deep breaths, so Face does what he does best and talks enough for the two of them.

“You can feel me, right buddy?” He gets a nod and smiles, wide and open, honest, letting Murdock in. “It’s all real, Murdock. You and me, Hannibal, BA, this house, the muffins you made for breakfast, all thirty-seven of them, all of it. I don’t need to know what’s going on with you right now, most of the time I don’t want to, but I need you to know it’s not real. You are. We are. I’ve got you, you’re safe, okay?”

Murdock nods again, with a little more force this time, and swipes a tongue over his lips, swallowing, opening his mouth with a small furrow in his brow.

“Did I scare ya, Facey?”

Face shakes his head, still wearing that same smile. “You never scare me when you’re not behind a set of flight controls.”

Murdock blinks at him, slow and uncertain, and starts to tip his head away.

“Hey,” Face murmurs, moving his head to avoid Murdock’s gaze slipping off. “I’m not scared of you, alright?”

“You sure are convincing.”

“More or less convincing than whatever’s going on in there?” he asks, nodding at Murdock’s head. Murdock’s fingers tighten a fraction around his wrists and he pretends not to notice. After a moment his grip relaxes again.

“They’re pretty convincing too.”

“Well, shit,” Face says, light, joking, “I’d better step my game up.”

Murdock laughs at that, a real throaty giggle that matches the light that’s back in his eyes. And they’re good, for now.

He can feel Murdock’s gaze on him from the other side of the room, fixed sharply on him, can picture the narrowed green eyes and the heavy brow and the unhappy slant of his mouth. He doesn’t look up, doesn’t look over, just keeps flicking through the comic book he snagged from the grocery store. He doesn’t need to see Murdock’s expression to understand it; he knows he fucked up, he doesn’t care about looking the evidence in the face.

Bosco enters the room with a couple of beers, passing one to Murdock and sitting on the couch next to Face. He rides out the silence for a few minutes, waiting to be acknowledged, and when the moment doesn’t come he sighs.

“Bossman wants to see you.” There’s no warmth in the words and Face snaps the comic shut and throws it carelessly towards the coffee table, standing up as it hits the edge and slides back off onto the floor.


He doesn’t look at either of them as he crosses over to the same door Bosco just came through, and takes one step into the kitchen. He stands in the doorway, leans casually against the frame where the white paint that should be stereotypically homely is worn and cracking, and holds Hannibal’s gaze with all the defiance he should’ve left behind ten years ago. Hannibal, bent over at the table, leaning on his hands, looking over the money, sighs, and lifts his gaze.

“Shut the door, Face.”

Face moves further into the kitchen, and kicks the door behind him none too gently. Hannibal scowls and Face barely holds back a smirk.

“I’m gonna level with you Hannibal, I know I’m in the doghouse right now, but I’m not entirely sure why.” It is, of course, only half true. Hannibal almost growls and Face restrains his reaction to the sound.

“Then let me level with you, Lieutenant…”

Face doesn’t let him, pulling himself up to full height and cutting him off, because fuck that.

“Don’t you pull rank on me Hannibal, you don’t have that option anymore. You fucked that option up for all of us, remember?”

Hannibal pushes himself up from the table, and approaches, stopping a little out of Face’s personal space, matching his stiff-backed upright stance. As always Face feels the few inches of height between them like a naughty child squaring up to a disappointed parent. Except, with his low voice and cold eyes, Hannibal’s a little beyond disappointed right now.

“Then maybe you should stop acting like a baby Ranger and more like the grown man with responsibilities that you are nowadays, don’t you think?”

Face bristles, but it’s a rhetorical question and he’s not an idiot, so he keeps his mouth shut.

“Speaking of fucking up, do you have anything to say about what happened back there?”

Face scoffs. That one isn’t rhetorical, but it’s particularly pointed. “Honestly? I think I’ve said all I can. Besides, it doesn’t seem like anybody’s too happy to listen to me right now.”

“And I can’t possibly imagine why.” Hannibal scrubs a hand over his face. “Why don’t you drop the petulant child act for five fucking minutes, Face, and talk to me like an adult.”

Face sneers, an ugly look on a lovely face. His careless amusement is giving way to genuine frustration, and it shows in the dark of his eyes and the way he pushes forwards a little. Hannibal watches him tongue the inside of his cheek for a second, the way he does when he’s deciding exactly what the perfect first word is.

“Listen, we all know why I’m on this team. Requisitions officer, sure. Crackshot sniper, why not? Fuck that. I am a con man, Hannibal. I am a goddamn good liar and it’s the only reason any of you keep me around. So please, explain to me exactly why I’m in the shit with everyone for doing the one thing I am supposed to do.”

“Because you don’t lie to us–”

“I lie to everyone!” Face is shouting now, the last word almost bellowed, anger radiating off him in waves, the same way he was raging in the back of the van on the way back from the job.

Hannibal slams his fist on the table and the whole thing shakes. “You. Don’t. Lie. To. Us!”

Face barks a laugh before he can stop himself, spitting out the worst thing he can think to say, can think to imply; “Is that what you think, Hannibal?”

Hannibal reaches out, grabbing a fistful of Face’s shirt and hauls him forwards, furious. Face laughs, loud, daring, without any humour at all.

“Come the fuck on, Hannibal, do you really believe that I haven’t been bullshitting you since we met? Am I that good at it that not even the great Hannibal Smith knows when I’m lying to him?”

He’s reaching up before he can stop himself, planting his palms firmly on Hannibal’s chest to shove him back. Hannibal gets there first, using his grip on Face’s shirt to push him away.

“We are supposed to be a team , Face,” he almost shouts. Face has no doubt that Murdock and Bosco are at the door listening right now, but even if they weren’t, it’d be impossible for them to not hear that. “You can make yourself as perfect as a con man as you like, but you’re not indispensable if we can’t trust you.”

And that stops Face cold. He can feel his anger draining as quickly as the colour from his face, paling beneath the tan as he leans away from Hannibal, staring, a moment of vulnerability forcing cracks in the facade.

“I’m… dispensable?” His voice is strained.

Hannibal grimaces, barely, and Face knows he knows he’s gone maybe half a step too far.

“Just like that, Hannibal? You promised me you weren’t gonna leave me like that, you swore to God. You know I couldn’t–”

He breaks off, voice cracking, as Hannibal levels him with a steady gaze, and for the first time Face can actually see the hurt behind his eyes, not just the cold anger of before. And finally he feels the stab of guilt in his chest he’s been waiting for.

“Shit, Face, I didn’t mean… No, I’m not going to leave you, kid. We aren’t going to leave you, we are a team. But you have to stop finding reasons to push us away. You almost screwed up everything today. So if I’m giving you the chance to explain yourself, you’d better damn well take it.”

Hannibal ‘tough love’ Smith. Face rubs one hand over his bruising jaw, finding the words he needs to say while swallowing down the urge to beg forgiveness and admit that, truly, Face would die for this man.

“I’m lost, boss,” he says finally, the statement coming quiet and sad and painfully true. He forces a half smile that doesn’t sit right, and behind him the door creaks open a little. “I’m sorry for the jab about our ranks, but…”

“But?” Hannibal prompts, tone softer now, coaxing.

“Without that, I don’t know who I am anymore. I saw a chance to be someone, and I took it. And it got away from me. And I lost it again.” He drops his eyes to his feet as the door continues to ease open, can feel Murdock and Bosco at the doorway, watching, listening. “I’m sorry, boss. I didn’t mean for it to get so out of control. I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt. I didn’t mean to let you down.”

Hannibal sighs and steps closer, lays a warm, heavy hand on Face’s shoulder. The rough pad of his thumb skims above the neckline of Face’s shirt, brushing the skin of his throat. Face doesn’t look at him.

“You already are someone, Face. You don’t have to bullshit me, or any of us, to make me believe that.” He squeezes his hand, and Face knows he’s forgiven, but there’s still a heavy, hard weight in his stomach. “But I’m not the only one you owe an apology to.”

Face straightens up as Hannibal drops his hand, nodding. “Yes Colonel.”

A wry smile quirks Hannibal’s mouth, and the hurt in his eyes has been replaced by the warm appreciation Face lives for. That Face would die for.

Hannibal passes Murdock and Bosco as he leaves the room, and after taking a moment to regain composure, Face turns to them.

“Guys, I–”

Bosco doesn’t even let him finish. He nods, once, strong and steady, and holds out his fist.

“We’re all good, man. I know you.”

Face bumps his fist, flashing a careless grin. “At least that makes one of us.”

Bosco rolls his eyes. “Goddamn drama queen, I swear.”

He heads back into the living room, where Hannibal’s sat in Face’s spot, lighting a cigar, and where Face’s comic book is lying in Bosco’s seat. Face sighs. He’s never going to get that back.

He turns to Murdock, and the first thing he sees is that his best friend has bitten open the cut on his lip again, and blood is swelling from the opening.

“Shit, buddy, come here.”

The first aid kit, one of several the team keep on them at all times, is under the sink. Murdock sits on the kitchen table, eyes on Face as he cleans up the wound. It looks worse than it is, but the positioning is going to be a bitch, especially considering how much time Face devotes to making Murdock smile. Damn.

Murdock doesn’t wince once at the antiseptic wipe, just nods when Face apologises for the sting. Face looks up from his mouth to meet his gaze, takes in the lingering heaviness of his brow.

“Fuck, Murdock. I’m sorry. I never meant for you to get hurt.”

“I can take one punch Face, you know that. This ol’ nut of mine has taken much worse.”

Much like Face, Murdock likes to joke about all of his issues, finds it easy and comforting to default to using humour as a coping mechanism. Still, as often as Murdock makes wisecracks about his experiences at various hospitals around the world, Face doesn’t find those ones any easier to hear. His hands, resting on Murdock’s knees, clench into fists. Murdock moves on.

“Besides, that ain’t what I want you to be sorry for, so get to apologisin’.”

Face fights back a smirk, hides his laugh behind a cough. But his voice, when he speaks, is genuine and sincere.

“I should never have lied to you. Any of you, because that’s not what teammates do, but I know better than to lie to you . I’m sorry, and I’m sorry that I hurt you myself, as well as getting you hurt.” He lowers his voice and his gaze. “I never, ever meant to make you feel like you couldn’t trust me.”

“I’ve got your back, Facey,” Murdock reminds him. “That silver tongue of yours is the reason I ever trusted you to begin with.” He nudges at Face’s leg with his foot, makes him look up again. “You ‘n me are always gonna be best buddies, alright?”


“Always. And next time you feel like you’re lost and floating, or like you’ve forgotten who you are, or like you never were to start with, remember that. You’re there when I feel like I’m not a person, you and your kick, and you gotta remember I’m here for when things get a little unreal to you too.”

At times like this, when Murdock’s grounded and serious, Face can find himself lost for words, and he hates that, because he doesn’t do speechless, ever. But Murdock makes him feel like it’s okay to just be quiet sometimes, too.

“You got it, pal. You and me.”

He hesitates; he knows that with the job fucked they can’t hang around in town much longer, the scammed safehouse won’t be safe for much longer, but right now he is safe, anchored in Murdock’s personal space, and he doesn’t want to pull away. His friendship with Murdock has been a dangerous and crazy ride from the start – Christ knows none of them will ever forget Mexico – and while the same could be said for the team as a whole, it’s cold hard fact that he and Murdock are the terrible twosome, the dynamic duo, a force to be reckoned with and potentially concerningly codependent. Face feels real again with Murdock’s reassurance, and instead of pulling back he leans in, lets his forehead land almost heavily on Murdock’s shoulder, and sighs.

Crazy and dangerous, yes, and neither of them would have it any other way, but never anything but honest.

“I really fucked up,” he mutters, and as hard as he tries he can’t stop the bitterness from bleeding through.

“Fucked up does as fucked up is, Faceman,” Murdock says, with mocking weight, as though he’s presented the world with the most profound insight into Face’s personal brand of broken humanity ever recorded.

And even though Face huffs a laugh, honestly, the crazy pilot kind of has.

“Sorry I lied to you.”

“Ain’t no thing, Faceman,” Murdock says, exaggerating his Southern twang before adding, “sorry for punching you in the dick.”

Oh, Jesus, yeah. In the hours of seething silence that followed, Face had almost forgotten the screaming match and all too brief fistfight in the van. One hit and it was all over, because Murdock’s a tricky bastard who wasn’t looking for too long a fight with his best friend, and went straight in for the kill with that merciless crotch shot.

“I forgive you, but my crown jewels might take a little longer to come around.” He pauses, and takes in Murdock’s small, wry smile that actually looks a little proud, the fucker. Face laughs, a breathy, scoffed little thing, and concedes; “It was a good hit though, and I did kinda deserve it so. Sorry I’m a mess,” he says and Murdock actually whoops a laugh at that. His arms come up and he slaps Face on the back before settling into a hug.

“Right back atcha, beautiful.”

And he swings one leg back and forth, his foot nudging against Face’s calf with every return, and Face smiles into Murdock’s flannel and lets himself just be.