Warning: Hurt/Comfort, Angst. A more realistic look at Murdock’s mental instability. Dissociation, mental break with reality, discussion of past mental institutionalization and treatments.
Summary: Face needs to stop for a minute after they break Murdock out of the hospital to pull the pilot back with him.
A/N: Title & theme based on James Bay’s amazing song, Hold Back the River that gives me all of the Face/Murdock post-Germany breakout reunion feels.
Face should have realized sooner that something was off.
Easily would have any other time.
But the adrenaline brought on by successfully flying a freaking TANK had overpowered everything except the team's excitement once they'd reached dry land.
Even B.A., who'd been furious upon waking and finding them literally falling out of the sky, had joined in with the celebrating, when they'd made it to the safe house Hannibal had set up.
"We made it, baby." Face had whispered into Murdock's shaggy brown hair when he'd yanked the pilot into a crushing hug the first moment alone they got away from their teammates.
Face's own elation at being reunited with his team, with Murdock, had eclipsed all else to the point he hadn't noticed that the amped up energy had gone out of Murdock as soon as he'd uttered the short, simple statement.
"Where's that fool?" B.A. questioned from the couch as he glanced around the open warehouse, a few hours later. "There's gotta be something wrong if you're the only one still making all this damned racket. He's gotta be getting up to no good."
It only took a second for B.A.'s observation to bring Face's own hyperactivity to a crashing halt.
Where had Murdock gone?
The building wasn't that large, with the main area taking up most of the interior space. But that didn't mean there wasn't Murdock sized spots to be found and occupied.
"Murdock?" Face called out as he made his way around crates and opened the few doors surrounding the room's perimeter.
Face started to retrace his path backward, stopping at the small mop closet where he was assaulted from above by a burst of freezing air.
Glancing up he realized he'd missed an entrance to the roof at the beginning of his search.
"Murdock?" He questioned; making it to the top of the ladder as the cold violently slapped against him.
It wasn't until he'd climbed out fully that he noticed the figure draped in shadow at far end of the roof.
"Murdock!" He shouted; hurrying to where the pilot stood barefoot, still only clothed in the thin pajamas he'd been wearing when they broke him out of the hospital in Mannheim.
"Hey..." Voice more gentle as he reached out tentatively. "Murdock. Come inside."
"No, I don't wanna go with you." Murdock announced; head shaking vigorously back and forth as he scooted out of Face's reach and dangerously closer to the edge of the building.
"Whoa, whoa. Ok, Ok." Face conceded; holding his hands up in submission. "You don't have to come with me but please come away from the ledge, baby."
Murdock made a strangled groan; fingers tugging at the strands of his wind whipped hair. "Not Face. You're not Face. I shoulda known. It was too good to be true. Ya'll will never let me outta this place. It's too much fun keeping me here to poke and prod at. To burn and buzzzzz." Murdock exclaimed; mouth snapping shut at the end of the drawn out "z" with an eerily accurate mimic of electrical crackle.
Face watched on confusion as Murdock began to pace back and forth like a caged animal.
It wasn't the first time he'd dealt with one of the pilot's episodes. Far from it, actually.
There'd been many others that they'd handled through the long course of their friendship, but he couldn't figure out what had been the trigger this time.
From the moment they'd crashed the Humvee through the hospital wall, Murdock had seemed perfectly cognizant. Like his old regular, manic self.
Up until now.
"Shoulda known. Shoulda known." Murdock mumbled before pointing an accusing finger in Face's direction with a bitter chuckle. "You almost had me. You were good. Had me believing everything. A tank! We flew a TANK! That was awesome. You were. You were."
Murdock's sharp, angry eyes went soft as he jerked into Face's space and ran an ice cold hand over his cheek. "'Bout believed you, too." The soft caress went sharp as bitten down fingernails scraped against skin when Murdock painfully latched on.
His hold suddenly all dangerous Ranger and showing nothing of the soft, secret touches they'd shared in the past three years. "I don't want you. I want the real Face. My Face. You're not him and you gave it all away with one word...baby."
The spitted endearment settled in heavily and kicked started Face's brain.
He'd never freely used the term. Though, its meaning was felt every time he called Murdock, buddy, in front of others.
Sly and slick and just for them. Only ever them.
Even in a crowded room full of people who couldn't be allowed to know exactly what they held, careful and guarded between their two bodies.
Face's posture went lax at the realization that his own carelessness had helped bring on their current situation.
He'd been so worried about getting Murdock out of the hospital; away from the damage he only knew a fraction of, that he hadn't thought to tread just as mindful in the aftermath.
Before Murdock could move out of his reach again, Face tenderly brushed his bangs back so he could get his first clear look at the pilot.
And so Murdock could see him just as well.
"Come on, buddy." Face pleaded as he watched the flood of emotions warring behind green eyes. "Come back to me, please."
Terror flashed bright at the forefront and Face remembered the courtroom MPs that had pulled Murdock out of his fighting grasp at the end of their hearing.
It'd been the last time he'd seen the pilot for six months.
"It's me, bud. I promise. You're out. We're out. We're gonna make this whole situation right but we need your help. I need you." Face put forth with more firm emotion.
"Face?" Murdock questioned as tears spilled down his cheeks; running over lips made pale by the freezing temperature.
"Yeah, hey, yeah, I'm here." Face soothed; wrapping his arms around Murdock's furiously shaking body in an attempt to give warmth.
"We made it. Outta the tank." Murdock stated with more confidence. "Made it outta the hospital."
Face nodded; relief washing over him as Murdock's recognition continued. "Sure did, buddy."