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Keeping The Watch

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"How is he?" Murdock approached Hannibal as he watched over their LT: BA's sounding board; Murdock's best friend; and Hannibal's XO and life partner.

"Think he's finally given in to the pain meds. He's sound asleep."

"It should only be an hour and a half or so before our extraction is here. I'll stay with him so you can get some sleep."

Hannibal's eyes returned to the sleeping man whose head was cradled in his lap. He shook his head. "No. Thank you. I’m good where I am.”

Murdock stood there for another few moments, waiting to see if their Colonel would change his mind, before creeping quietly away backwards towards where their other teammate sat, keeping watch.

“I guess he didn’t take you up on the offer then?” BA’s voice was hushed, alert as he stared out into the darkness of the desert.

“’Course not.” Murdock dropped to a crouch by BA’s side, rifle in his hands, his own eyes remaining locked on their comrades on the other side of the makeshift camp. “Face’ll be okay.”

Murdock was trying to convince himself as much as convincing BA. Face was a mess, his torso and belly wrapped in all the pressure dressings the team had carried, red stains showing through even in the soft glow from the emergency torches. An IED, just when they were nearly home safe.

War was a bitch.

“Face is made of tough stuff, man.” But BA sounded as unconvinced as Murdock felt. “And Hannibal won’t let him give up.”

“He’s sleeping now.”

“Good. Best thing for him.” Without turning from his watch for even a second, BA reached one big hand to pat Murdock on the shoulder, nearly knocking him over in the process. “Why don’t you catch some sleep too? I’ll wake you in a bit to take over the watch.”

Murdock shook his head, watching mesmerised as Hannibal stroked his hand gently through Face’s dirty, blood-streaked curls. Even from this distance he could see the older man’s lips moving; he wondered what words of comfort Hannibal was whispering to his wounded lover.

“They really are in love, aren’t they?” The words slipped from his mouth without conscious thought, and from the corner of his eye he saw BA glance over at him briefly, clearly confused.

“You only just figuring that out now? I knew you were crazy, but – ”

“That’s not it.” Murdock hadn’t felt quite this sane in a long, long time. Seeing your best friend nearly blown to pieces right in front of you tended to have that effect. “It’s just, they’re normally so private. We know they’re in love but we don’t see it much.”

“That’s ‘cause they’re professionals.”

Murdock dropped back from his crouch to sit completely on the cold, hard rocky floor, leaning sideways until he was pressed against BA. “But they could show it around us,” he murmured. “I wouldn’t mind.”

“Me neither.” BA leaned into him almost automatically, his muscular body a solid wall of heat against the chill of the desert night. A few metres away, Hannibal tenderly adjusted the thin foil blanket wrapped around Face’s motionless body, tugging it up over his shoulders as if hiding the bloody bandages. “And they know that. But that’s just not what they do.”

“Hannibal’s so gentle with him.”

“He’s been gentle with us, too, when we’ve been hurt or sick.”

“But not like he is with Face.” A sudden pang of loneliness hit Murdock. “Do you ever think you’ll find that with someone? That kind of love?”

BA snorted softly. “If this is your way of asking me out, man, let me tell you now – ”

“No.” Murdock laughed, a bitter sound even to his own ears. “You ain’t my type, big guy, sorry to burst your bubble.”

“And you really ain’t mine, fool.” BA glanced sideways at him again, bumping their shoulders together companionably. “I don’t think about it,” he confessed quietly. “But yeah, I’d like it. One day. With someone.”

“Me too.” But who would ever want Murdock’s kind of crazy? Or BA’s kind, for that matter; there was a reason the four of them fitted together so well as a team, after all. “They’re really lucky.”

“I think Face might question that statement if he was awake right now.”

Murdock elbowed BA gently in the kidneys. “You know what I mean.”

A soft grunt, then – “Yeah, I know.” A long pause, both of them lost in their thoughts as the night closed in further around them.

Murdock couldn’t help remembering the first time he’d ever met Hannibal and Face, knowing almost instinctively that the two men were together. It had been a feeling, more than anything concrete, and it had been weeks before he’d even seen them hug, let alone kiss. He’d never once felt that the two men were hiding, though. It really was just how they were.

Private. Professional.

Deeply in love.

On the other side of the camp, Hannibal craned his head down to press his lips to Face’s forehead. It was a sign of how dire Face’s injuries were, Murdock knew, as their Colonel and his XO were never, ever demonstrative in the field. It was also a sign of the depth of Hannibal’s trust in Murdock and BA, knowing they would keep watch until extraction, allowing Hannibal to focus on Face.

“How much longer?” Murdock dropped his head down sideways onto BA’s muscular shoulder, adrenaline battling exhaustion, though he wouldn’t sleep. “’Bout an hour or so?”

“Give or take. Then another hour back to base.”

Maybe two hours total. Murdock settled his rifle more comfortably in his lap and sighed. Face would make it. Given what they’d survived in the past, two hours was nothing.

Two hours, then they could all sleep, once Face was safe in the arms of the medical team back at the FOB. Until then, they would each keep their watch; BA watching the desert, Murdock watching Hannibal, and Hannibal watching Face.