“Hey, do you think this is the right place, Facey?”
The two men stood outside John McRory’s Place; an Irish bar set off the beaten path. The bricks around it were colored grey as the white limestone started to see time. The green awning is darkened by rain and the gold letter’s shimmer; Face and Murdock stand under a black umbrella. Murdock scrunching his face to look at a small piece of paper, square glasses stuck about the rim of his baseball cap. Face turns, and places the glasses into their proper place.
“Oh! That’s much better!” Murdock declared since now he could see the numbers and letters clearly. Face shook his head. He ran a hand through stark, white hair that once had been brilliant sun blond. It was a hard flight from Malibu to Boston but neither would have pissed this for the world.
“Yeah,” Face said, “let’s get inside, my old bones can’t take this rain any longer.” He said as he grabbed Murdock’s hand and led the way across the street. Cars slowed for the two old men. Murdock, light on his feet as ever, helped Face to the curb. Face’s Cain made a tap-tapping noise on the concrete as they took the stairs to the basement bar.
Inside, it’s decorated with streamers and balloons. There’s a table full of food and people drinking at the bar. Face and Murdock both look out of place. Murdock, ever, in his tiger bomber jacket and Face in an ultra fancy suit with a red pocket square and matching tie. Neither seemed to mind the looks they got as they started to look for their son. “Do you think he forgot what we looked like, Facey?” Murdock asked. Face just rolled his eyes.
“He can’t forget us, after all he did send us the invitation.” Face reminded his long-term partner. Murdock grinned widely then. Face shook off the umbrella and folded it. He hung it on the crook of his arm and they went further into the crowd. Face watched as Murdock swept away from him, ever intent on finding the man who’d invited them here in the first place when someone tapped him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before,” a man of moderate height, blue eyes and dark, curly, hair said. Face put on his most charming smile, even though he’s nearly seventy, it still works, especially since he’s an old man.
“Why no, I don’t think so…” Face said, “Actually, we’re from California.”
“Well, this is a private birth day party.” The man replied.
“We are aware, in fact, we’ve been invited.” Face said, he brought out the invitation and handed it over. The man gave flipped it open then closed and handed it back.
“My mistake, Nate Ford,” he held out his hand.
“Templeton Peck,” Face replied, “mostly people just call me Face.”
“Well, enjoy the party. Parker will be here soon,” Nate replied. They shook hands and then Nate was gone. Murdock was at his side though.
“Who was that?”
“I think that’s Parker’s boss she’s been telling us about. I’d love to see him in action. She keep’s saying he’s as brilliant as Hannibal.” Face explained.
“I thought he’d be taller.” Murdock grumped.
“Now, now, we’ve talked about this.” Face tried to not sound tired. These days though he couldn’t help it. Murdock frowned and gently (which is saying something from the old days) Face to a table near the back door. They no longer had to run since their pardon a decade and a half before, but still, old habits died hard.
“Sit here, Faceman, and I’ll get you something.” Murdock ordered and then he was off again; making friends as he went. Face shook his head and smiled.
“Faceman….?” A woman with a rather titillating, European accent had been walking by when she heard his name. She turned back. Face smiled and nodded.
“I’ve studied every con you ever pulled.” She said, sitting down at the table. Face blinked for a second. Someone had studied him?
“Yes, you did some amazing work.” The woman replied.
“I hadn’t realized I said that out loud.”
“Please, don’t be embarrassed. I normally wouldn’t do this sort of thing, but you were my hero growing up.” The woman smiled.
“What’s your name?” Face asked.
“Sophie. I had a complete giggle fit when I heard about the time you played used car sails man.” Sophie replied.
Face blinked; “That is not the worst of it.”
“Oh, I had to play the wife to a used cars salesman during one con.” Sophie replied, “I understand now why it’s the worst any con person can ever do.” Then she glanced over Nate, “But Nate made it worth my time, I got to kick him in the balls.”
Face made a painful grunt. “Been there, plenty of times. Actually, scratch that. I’ve gotten beaten up for cons.”
“I hope you don’t mind, but do you think you could….” She wagged her eyebrows at him. In the past Face probably would have assumed she wanted to have a bit of private time but he saw that look she’d given Nate. They are totally in love.
“Teach you a thing or two, darling?” Face waggled his eyebrows back because now Nate was looking and he was the honest man of the grouped and Face always found it hilarious to play around with innocent people during very innocent cons.
“Well…it’s pretty old school.”
“Oh, I am pretty old school myself. You practically conned a whole room into giving you land settlements with nothing but a nice suite and a glass of Champaign, I did it in a tight dress.” Sophie smirked.
“I like you, kid, okay…” and he launches into one of his very successful cons. Actually, it was a retelling of Hannibal being on the Jazz, Murdock being crazy as hell, BA punching people (mostly the team) and Face having to find shit on the fly without getting his ass beat by some angry hillbilly’s.
By the time he’s done Murdock is back with food and drinks, and behind him is….
“Eliot!” Face’s whole countenance changed as he saw his son. Eliot had the biggest smile for him as well and Face stood so he could embrace the other man. Eliot hugged him gently and Face snorted.
“I may be old but I’m not fragile, Murdock, why does everyone do that to me!?” Face demanded to know petulantly.
“It ain’t our fault you tend to break easily Face-guy.” Murdock replied. He is now seated with Sophie and they’re watching him and Eliot.
“Sophie, these are Parker and I’s…. Dad’s….” he explained gruffly, but proudly at the same time.
“I figured that out when you hugged him,” Sophie replied with a soft smile.
“Do you remember when we picked them up Face?” Murdock asked. “Two little tykes in the back alley of a male strip bar in west LA. We were using it as a cover for a job, and we couldn’t leave them behind.”
“It’s a good thing BA has such a soft spot for kids,” Face muttered. He sat down and urged Eliot to join them. He slid towards the wall part of the booth and Eliot sat, hemming him in, but Face didn’t mind. In his younger days he might have been more jumpy, but he knew Eliot as the best fighter around and knew his son would have his back if anything happened.
“I thought you didn’t know Parker before the Dubenich thing,” Sophie said, slightly confused.
“Parker and I did go our separate ways after a time, I lost track of her after she got carted off by CPS and I couldn’t get to her in time. That’s when I tried to go back to my old man who wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I went into the Army after that. I guess we just never minded. And…” Eliot turned to Murdock…”Tykes? I was fifteen.” He gave the crazy man his patented “Eliot is serious” glare which Murdock strictly ignored.
“You were to us.” Murdock replied, “and it worked out until you guys left…in the middle of the night….” He adopted a sad tone.
“Without a note to explain why,” Face put in, catching onto his partner’s game quickly. “Billy whined after you two for DAYS!”
“Billy doesn’t’ exist,” Eliot muttered.
“Do you hear that Billy?” Murdock turned to air and pouted, “Eliot never did believe you were real, like BA, that ugly mud sucker.”
“Where are BA and Hannibal anyway?” Eliot asked, hoping this change of subject would get the two to stop guilt tripping him.
“He’s at the repair shop, he couldn’t get the time off. We keep telling him to retire, god knows he’s got the money for it, won’t listen to us.” Face mutters huffily.
Murdock is petting the air and Billy whines. They don’t like talking about Hannibal these days. “And Hannibal has lost his marbles, well, memory.”
“He’s…?” Eliot enquires.
“Alzheimer’s,” Face frowns, “When we go to see him he thinks we’re doing one of his crazy plans.”
“The Nurses like him though and he’s room mates with Decker.” Murdock added. “It’s hilarious to just see the two of the go at it. Have you ever see to crotchety old men fist fight?”
“No, I haven’t.” Eliot shook his head.
“Well, it’s the funniest thing and all in slow motion. They don’t leave bruises though, I don’t think they can hit hard. They’ve both lost a lot of weight.” Murdock sighs. Again.
“As have you two,” Eliot frowns, “make sure to eat as much as you can. I did the cooking for this party after all.”
“Is that part of you making up to us for leaving in the middle of the night and not ever writing us?” Face asked, “I know I gave you a PO Box address for reasons.”
“Yes,” Eliot sighed. Sophie hid a smile behind a hand.
“Good. We’ll probably stay for another two weeks,” Face nodded and then went on. Because this was as much of a sorry they were gonna get from Eliot and he knew it.
“We’ll show you around,” Eliot offers. Sophie excuses herself, seeing a family moment coming up, and joins Nate at the bar.
“You seem to be doing well for yourself,” Murdock says as he gives Nate and Sophie a side ways glance.
“Yeah, I’ve found a family, but I never forgot about you guys.” Eliot offers.
“We’re glad,” Face puts a hand on Eliot’s shoulder like Hannibal always did to him. “When is Parker getting here?”
There was a buzzing noise and Eliot pulled out his cell phone. “In a few seconds, get ready, we’re gonna surprise her.” And then he was gone to orchestrate the whole thing.
Murdock grinned; “I love Surprise Party’s, Face!”
The two joined the group; Eliot had them in the back as another surprise for Parker. Then the lights went out and the shades down so that she wouldn’t see them. Then Hardison slowly led her in with a blindfold across her eyes.
“I still don’t get why I have to be blind folded,” Parker pouted.
“Girl, I told you, it’s a trust exercise!” Hardison harrumphed at her.
“Can I take it off?”
“Oh come on. Is this for that pole I accidentally led you into early?” Parker demanded to know.
“No, but my buddies are still smarting from that you devious woman.” Hardison frowns and then places her in the perfect spot. “Okay, now take it off.”
“SURPRISE!” Everyone cheers and then they start to sing Happy Birthday.
Parker’s eyes are wide with excitement and bliss; “but I never told anyone when my birthday was,”
“Of course not,” Hardison rolls his eyes, “Eliot put this together.”
Parker finds her older brother coming to her through the crowd; there are two other people with him. She can’t tell who they are until they speak.
“Pumpkin,” and “Cucumber.” Are said at the same time as she throws herself into the arms of Face and Murdock.
“Daddy! Papa!” she can’t believe she’s starting to cry.
“Thank you.” Face says into her ear.
“What for?” she asks.
He shrugs, “For when you came home.”
Murdock hugs her as tight as he can and Face gets a peck on the cheek.
Parker later asks Eliot to never throw her a surprise party again because she doesn’t thinks he could handle one with their father’s there, ever, again.