Warnings: Graphic character injury, non-graphic sex (Face/Murdock), werewolf transformations, violence, blood, monsters all over the damned place.
Word Count: 7,578 (Ch.1-5)
Author's Note: I've updated the existing 5 chapters while finishing up the last three as I type. *GASP* It only took a damned year. I'm so very sorry.
They promptly escaped and today still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune.
If you have a monster problem...if no one else can help...and if you can find them...maybe you can hire...
“Hannibal, I can’t see shit out here.” Face said into his headset as he jogged along the wooded path, not even trying to be quiet anymore. It was getting way too late and they were running out of time.
Face kept moving even as a shadow slid through the trees to his left.
“Wait, wait. I see something. I got it, Boss.”
“Be careful.” Hannibal’s voice crackled in his ear right before the still night suddenly exploded with rapid movements and snarls as what had been following in the darkness burst forward. It knocked Face over as it barreled passed and collided with the black, jaguar-like creature ahead of him.
“Shit. Murdock!” Face shouted into his headset. He climbed to his feet as the two fighting forms took off into the trees, the sound of their growls echoing all around him.
Face chased after the pair as they clawed at each other, jaws snapping as they fought, pushing themselves and him further away from the rest of the team.
Face tried to line up his rifle sight but couldn’t get a clear shot as the larger of the two threw the other into a tree. It lunged forward, teeth bared ready to rip the throat out of the slighter wolfish figure.
“Mother fucker.” Face growled and the jaguar creature turned in his direction. “There you are. Smile pretty for me.” He pulled the trigger and its head evaporated in a cloud of red as the body slumped to the ground.
“Boss, the Nahual is down.” Face confirmed, watching the remaining beast shift under the weight of the dead thing.
“Good job, kid. Grab Murdock and let’s get the hell out of here.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Face lowered his rifle as he approached the tree, looking down where the beast sat hunched and panting, fur matted with gore.
“Hey buddy, come on, we gotta go.”
March 30, 2010 – Khewa, Afghanistan
“What’re we after out here?” B.A. asked, looking around the eerily empty village.
“Not sure. In this region could be a Bashmu or Girtablilu. All we know is, it’s nasty and has killed 10 people over the last three months.” Hannibal answered, exiting the vehicle.
“So we’re going in blind? Is that really safe with something this dangerous?” Face shook his head as he checked his rifle.
Yes, it was dangerous, but they did it anyway; which is how Murdock found himself winding through the wooden stands of the market when he heard a noise coming from the alley.
“I think I might have found what we’re looking for.” Murdock whispered into his headset as he crept around the corner of the building to get a visual confirmation.
In a corner, hunched low in the shadows was a beast he couldn’t quite make out.
“Bossman, I don’t know what it is but this definitely ain’t a Girablilu. It’s hairy.”
“Where are you?” Hannibal questioned.
“In the marketplace.”
“We’re on the way. Stay back.”
“Will do.” Murdock started to duck into an enclosure but then the thing got to its feet.
The bipedal beast stood almost 7 feet tall, body covered in coarse reddish hair. It had deadly sharp claws and bright yellow eyes that scanned the area thoroughly as it sniffed the air with its long snout.
“Shit. A werewolf. It’s a werewolf. Change of plans. I’m on the move, boys.” Murdock frantically yelled before vaulting over the stall as the werewolf became aware of his presence and charged after him with a howl.
The confused shouts of his teammates continued in his ear as he ran down the opposite throughway.
“Hang on, buddy.”
“Ain’t no werewolves in Afghanistan!”
Murdock turned a corner trying to ignore the fact that he heard the damned thing growling and panting right over his shoulder.
It was so close he could smell and feel it’s foul, rancid breath. His heart thundered as claws dug into the back of his jacket and a violent jerk had him facing the beast.
“Fuck you, Fido.” The pilot kicked out and connected with its leg, the action stunning enough that he was able to pull forward and run as he yanked himself free of the jacket. He kept moving even as his rifle clattered to the ground.
Stopping in front of an old car, Murdock pulled his out pistol as the werewolf made its way into the open.
With sights set on him it let loose another bone-jarring howl then raced in his direction.
He began to shoot, the bullets making loud thwumps of impact but not slowing it down, despite being silver.
Before the pilot could try and get over the car’s hood the werewolf was on him and he desperately lashed out. Fist connected with muzzle as it knocked him to the ground, sinking teeth into his arm and shaking him wildly.
Murdock heard vague screams as he fought against the werewolf but didn’t dare take his eyes off the monster on top of him. Blindly reaching for the pistol that had been knocked away from him, a strangled wail tore from his throat when his hand wrapped around the grip.
He brought the gun forward and pumped what was left of the 16 shots into the werewolf, sending it tumbling back. Not letting up as he crawled to his feet, he pulled the trigger until all he got was the dry click of an empty magazine.
The screaming continued even as the beast started to shift back to human form in death. It wasn’t until Murdock looked down at his bleeding arm; ‘Bleeding because the fucker bit me.’ did he realize the noise was coming from him.
He whipped around to see if he was still alone and reached up with his uninjured arm to his ear piece but it wasn’t there. Quickly running back to the alley he tore his shirt sleeve into strips to wrap the wound up.
‘Shit. Shit. What am I gonna do?’ In the dark path he saw his jacket and rifle lying on the ground. Murdock reached for the discarded items but his whole body started to shake. Trying to steady himself he leaned against the wall but it was no use when a wave of nausea joined the tremors and he started to vomit.
A fleeting thought of, ‘No more fucking sour worms before a mission.’ had him bending back over with a sob just as shouts came from where the werewolf was.
The rest of the team continued to scream for him but he couldn’t move from where he was slumped over, his hand feebly reaching for his jacket.
They were getting closer and the voice in his head assured him that if they found him in the alley, his foot in a puddle of his own sick as he sagged against the wall, that it would be the absolute end. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just boom, night-night.
“No, no.” Murdock shook his head and argued. “Bullshit. Won’t do that.” He pushed himself up and grabbed the rifle. A glance at his arm showed the bleeding had already stopped but the burning was excruciating as he slid his jacket back on.
His stomach roiled once more as he stepped out into the open space and waved an arm.
“Crikey! That was a big, nasty bugger!” H.M. Irwin, werewolf hunter, to the rescue, Murdock disconnectedly thought.
“Murdock!” B.A. and Face ran over to him but where B.A. stopped short, Face slammed into the pilot so hard they both almost fell over.
“You alright? You didn’t get bit, did you? What the fuck happened?” Face didn’t give time for answers as he checked for injuries.
“Stop. I’m fine. Right as rain.” The Australian accent fell away as Murdock twisted to get from Face’s searching hands. His efforts doubled when he glanced at B.A. who appeared to be two seconds away from holding the pilot down himself so Face could do a more thorough check.
“Temp, stop.” Murdock murmured against Face’s ear as he once again tried to extract himself from the Lieutenant’s grasp.
“Ok. Ok.” With a worried look Face stepped back but didn’t let go of Murdock’s shoulder as he glanced toward Hannibal. “Colonel, what is it?”
Hannibal looked up from the body on the ground, “Something’s wrong.”
“Wrong?” B.A. and Face shared a confused look as they walked over, Murdock trailing behind.
Lying in the sand was a tall, redheaded, white male with an Eagle, Globe and Anchor tattoo visible on what was left of his chest.
“Oh, shit. Holy shit!” Face ran a hand through his hair.
“Fucking Marine.” B.A. growled.
“What? How is this? Boss?” Face rambled, his eyes shifting between the dead man and Hannibal.
“I don’t like this.” Hannibal surveyed the area as he stood, “Let’s get this taken care of quickly then I need to make a call to the General.”
As Face and B.A. went to get the vehicle, Hannibal looked to Murdock.
“Everything good, son?”
Murdock met Hannibal’s intense gaze. The same one the Colonel had had the day so long ago when they’d come swooping in. Getting him the hell out of that Mexican hospital filled with nitwit nurses and the soul-sucking mummy that Murdock absolutely knew skulked the premises.
“Things got a little hairy there for awhile, sir, but now we’re set.”
Hannibal’s face relaxed and Murdock could have wept with joy when the Colonel’s big hand clapped him on the left shoulder instead of the right that still burned like hellfire.
After they’d gotten the body stowed away, the team waited outside for Hannibal as he placed the call to General Morrison.
“You sure you didn’t get bit, fool? B.A. tried hard to keep his scowl more one of aggravation than concern.
“Come on, big guy! Everybody knows that people getting all wolfed out from a bite is only made up to sell movie tickets.”
“What? Man, you know damned well…” His argument trailed off as Hannibal strode over, chewing hard on his unlit cigar in irritation.
“Let’s get out of here, boys.”
“What the hell’s going on, Hannibal? What did Morrison say?” Face, wanting answers, ignored the Colonel’s obvious tenseness.
“We’ve got an emergency debriefing as soon as we get back.” Hannibal turned, offering no more explanations as the three stared at each other in confusion.
Murdock never thought there’d come a day when he’d be apprehensive about flying, but then today had been full of all sorts of fucked up surprises. Face didn’t help the situation, sticking so close that the pilot felt like he couldn’t breathe.
The entire three hour flight to base Murdock talked continuously, even more than usual. Filling the space around them with inane trivia, burst of songs and making sure there was no room for questions about what happened. He didn’t trust himself to keep the truth in if asked while it was just him and Face in the cockpit.
Murdock started to recite ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in its entirety… in German, when he noticed Face had fallen asleep.
‘Maybe it’d be alright to slow down.’ As soon as the thought crossed his mind he felt the beginnings of a horrified scream trying to claw its way out of his throat.
It was kept at bay as he resumed his tale of ‘Rotkäppchen’ and by the time they landed he’d moved on to ‘The Three Little Pigs.’
Face stretched in his seat as he woke, keeping an eye on the pilot. “You’re going to medical as soon as this meeting is over.”
Murdock’s response was interrupted by a commotion and Hannibal’s voice booming with anger from the rear of the plane.
“For fuck sake. What now?” Face groaned as he opened the door, Murdock watching over his shoulder at the unfolding chaos. B.A. was still knocked out, strapped to his seat and oblivious to the uproar.
As a group of people came on the plane and started to lift the containment, Face quickly moved to where Hannibal was shouting at a smug-faced blond man in a suit.
“We had General’s orders to bring the cargo back to base. Has this gone through him?”
The blond laughed. “We’re the Supernatural Defense Agency; our orders supersede any given by General Morrison.
“What are you going to do with the body?” Hannibal gestured to the unit.
“Body, Colonel? What body?” The agent smirked then stepped off the plane.
“Boss, this is bullshit.” Face shouted as he made for the door but Hannibal reached out, stopping him.
Face looked at the restraining hand on his arm then back up. “They can’t just come in here and take the body and not tell us what’s happening.”
“Unfortunately, kid, he’s right. They can. But we can still get answers. Help me with B.A. so we’re not late.”
Murdock hoped the meeting would be over quickly. Not knowing how long he could keep his anxious body still. Especially when it took everything in him not to scratch the fiery itch that had started in his right arm shortly before they’d walked into the tiny conference room.
He had intentionally sat to Hannibal’s right, taking full advantage of the Colonel’s blind spot but that didn’t save him from the constant glances from Face or the few angry, groggy stares from B.A.
Murdock barely paid attention, more worried about getting away so he could assess the damage and ignoring the voice that continued to try and convince him how quickly his team…no, friends would put him down if they knew.
He shook his head hard to steady himself but the rest of his limbs didn’t get the memo, knee knocking loudly against the table.
General Morrison stopped talking and all eyes were suddenly on Murdock.
“My leg wanted to share its two cents but forgot all questions were to be held till the end. Sorry ‘bout that, sir.”
After a moment Morrison resumed and Murdock kept his eyes front, ignoring the holes Face was boring into him from the other table.
His interest was finally held when they began going over the details of Gunnery Sergeant Ted Rogers. Somewhere, possibly on his last leave, Rogers was infected with the werewolf virus. He’d been AWOL from his unit for the last six months before their unfortunate meeting with him earlier tonight.
The General was interrupted again when the door opened and the agent from the plane stepped in.
“Gentlemen, this is Agent Lynch from the S.D.A.” Morrison gestured to where the blond stood at the back of the room. The team’s full attention assured when his immobility gave them no option but turn toward him.
“We’ve already had the pleasure of meeting, though this is our first official introduction.” Hannibal glowered at Lynch.
“Alright, here’s the deal. As you’ve been told, Gunnery Sergeant Rogers was AWOL, but that’s no longer the case. And seeing as how no one on your team was injured…”
As Lynch’s gaze slid over the four of them, Murdock found himself running tongue over teeth. ‘Good deal, no fangs.’
“No one was injured, correct, Colonel?” Lynch’s stare flicked back to Murdock, who grasped the chair tightly to keep himself still.
“No injuries.” Hannibal responded and Murdock sagged in relief as Lynch looked away.
“Excellent, then that means we’re done here.” He clapped his hands together before leaving as quickly as he entered.
“That’s it? Russ, what’s really going on here? The S.D.A. doesn’t just come in and make a body disappear.” Hannibal frustratedly questioned.
“Hannibal, it’s out of my hands. If they say that’s it then that’s it.” Morrison sighed in defeat.
Noting the apparent dismissal Murdock leaned forward. “I’m gonna go get check out then hit a shower ‘cause I smell like a dog, Bossman.”
Hannibal absently shook his head in agreement and Murdock relaxed. The other man’s obvious distraction made it easier for him to lie right to his face.
“I’ll come with you.” Face offered, giving no option for refusal as he dropped into the seat next to them, watching Murdock suspiciously.
The pilot knew Face would see right through the story as soon as he heard the voluntary offer to head to medical.
“I’m fine. I know where it is. Don’t even gotta drop breadcrumbs to get back.” Murdock rolled his eyes.
“Face, I need you here. I have a couple more things to go over with Morrison and want your input.” Hannibal informed his Lieutenant.
“But, boss…” Face started to challenge.
Murdock didn’t waste time, nearly knocking his chair over as he headed for the door and ignored Face’s continued protests.
At the tent he grabbed clean clothes out of his truck before heading to the showers on the other side of camp.
After checking there was no one else in the area, Murdock shrugged out of his jacket, wincing as worn leather dragged against battered flesh. He took the ripped pieces of cloth off his arm and faced the wound clearly for the first time.
Though it’d been under 6 hours, Murdock could see a large amount of healing had already taken place.
“Figures, Marine would go right for the Ranger tat.” The pilot grumbled dryly as he poked the damaged skin around his tattoo. Taking off the blood soaked shirts and burying them at the bottom of the trashcan.
Hastily finishing undressing he climbed into the shower, turning the water on as high and hot as it would go.
“Mother fu…” Murdock’s hand shot out for the wall as water hit his arm, the pain almost sending him to his knees.
Standing hunched under the spray he tried not to vomit or pass out, both a strong possibility, when he heard a sharp intake of breath from behind.
Murdock tried to will himself to stay still but it was useless as his body betrayed him, turning to the one thing he didn’t want to see.
Face, pale with shock and wide eyed stood near the shower.
Murdock glanced away, feeling a violent, manic laugh start to bubble up. He fought to swallow it back down as Face spoke.
“Oh, Christ, H.M.”
The unveiled terror was bad enough, Murdock thought as he tried to keep his eyes from sliding back to the man in front of him, but Face’s voice shouldn’t sound like that. Face was supposed to laugh or shout with excitement, gasp in the heat of passion, but not this.
Murdock stared at the tiled floor, the water losing heat and turning cold against his back as he remembered the last time Face had used that pained, lost tone.
It’d been the mission with the Odz-Manouk, two years ago. They’d fucked up. Some small miscalculation, but it had given the serpent a chance to lash out with its razor tail and claws.
Face had gone down so fast and Murdock would never forget the panicked pitch of his voice as he clutched at Murdock while the pilot dragged him out of harm’s way.
Oh, god there’d been so much blood that day. So much of Face’s blood.
Like the blood that was now swirling, escaping down the drain. Except this time it was his and unlike Face there wouldn’t be any recovery from this wound.
Murdock welcomed the feeling of the room tilting slightly and the edges of everything getting fuzzy.
“No fucking way, H.M. You don’t get to check out and leave a goddamned lycanthropologist or werewolf hunter to fix this. I need you to help me. I. Need. You.”
The anger in Face’s voice snapped his head up and sharpened the room immediately. Anger he could deal with. The terror and pity would be the thing that broke him.
“Face, there’s no fixing this.” Murdock wearily pointed at his arm; the mending even more visible without all the caked on blood.
“We can… I don’t know. We can figure something out. Let me help.” Face pleaded, moving closer.
Murdock held a hand out, “Stop. Don’t. There’s still blood. All over.”
Face shook his head. “Ok, ok. Let me think.”
Murdock turned off the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist, watching as Face paced.
“We should tell Hannibal. He’ll help.” Murdock heard himself say and Face came to an abrupt stop.
“No, no, no. We can’t get him in this. I’ll take care of it.” Face reached for Murdock but the pilot dodged the movement; causing a pained expression to cross Face’s features. “Don’t lock me out, buddy.”
“What can you do, Face? Have you forgotten all the fur and fangs and raging blood lust? How the hell are we gonna deal with that?” The questions hung in the air as Murdock went stone still.
Before Face could respond the pilot let out a desperate moan that tore through the silence as shudders wracked his body.
When Murdock felt Face’s hands on his skin he started to flail, shoving at the other man even as his grip tightened.
“Temp, don’t touch me!” Murdock’s eyes were large and wild; he wailed and bucked when Face used his slight size advantage to pin the frantic pilot to the stall.
“H.M., look at me. Look at me.” Running a hand through Murdock’s wet hair, Face tilted his head up so their eyes met. “Shhhh, buddy, you gotta stop. Someone’s gonna hear you.”
Murdock slumped forward, the fight going out of him as his left arm scrabbled for purchase against his friend’s back. “Bound to happen anyway, Faceman. We’re only gonna delay the inevitable.”
April 7 – 3 weeks till the Full Moon
“Fool, you’re gonna fry your crazy brain sitting out here in this heat with that long-assed shirt on!” B.A. complained, watching the pilot at the grill.
“Nah, big guy, new meds are keeping me Chilly Willy.” Murdock smiled widely and tried to ignore the rivulets of sweat that were pooling at the small of his back.
“They need to be keeping you sane.” B.A. grumbled, bending down to work on his motorcycle.
The mechanic had been hounding Murdock about his sudden penchant for long sleeves and he knew he’d have to do something. The meds excuse was only going to work as long as someone, namely Hannibal, didn’t have a talk with Dr. Richter. And with B.A.’s constant harping, that could very well be soon.
Murdock snuck a glance at his friend’s turned figure, before wiping the sweat off the back of his neck. He was hot and exhausted. He’d barely slept at all the last week. Any time he’d try to turn off the ol’ noggin for a siesta, the swirling, rushing sound would become loud and constant.
“Like my brain ain’t already filled to capacity. Shoulda put the no vacancy sign out. Gotta remember that next time.” The pilot mumbled, flipping the steaks.
As loud as it was, the noise was something Murdock could handle. But the cloying, coppery smell that he couldn’t get rid of was even worse. He’d told Face it was like someone had shoved pennies up his nose, which was still better than when he realized what it’d really been.
A few nights ago, he’d been lying on his bunk staring at the ceiling and listening to the sounds of his teammates deep breaths when it clicked into place.
The rushing, thumping noises, it was them. The whole time Murdock had been wide awake listening to their hearts beating and hadn’t even realized it. And the smell…blood. He’d started gagging then and barely made it outside before he was puking.
Murdock was pulled off the winding path of his thoughts when Face joined them outside. Placing himself between B.A. and the pilot he tapped Murdock on the wrist before mouthing, ‘You ok?’
Murdock responded in the negative with a tired head shake.
“Come on.” Face said lowly.
“Hey Bosco, grubs up.” Murdock placed the food on the plate and stepped out from behind the grill, quickly following Face before B.A. could ask any questions.
As Face pushed him into the supply closet Murdock could have laughed if it hadn’t been so sad. A month prior would have been a completely different story as he yanked off his shirt while Face locked the door.
Right now all he was worried about was getting the sweat soaked shirt off so he could cool down without attracting the suspicious stares of the rest of the team.
Murdock sunk to the dirty floor, listening to Face move around and try to give him space in the small closet.
“I’m gonna die of this heat before I even gotta deal with this werewolf bullshit.” The pilot drawled, lying down and letting out a sigh when Face’s fingers lightly trailed over his knee.
“There’s got to be something that can help. I’ll go back to the websites I’ve been looking over. I haven’t had time to read through the book I just got, though. Maybe there’s…”
“Face, I love you, but stop talking. Putting all that humid carbon dioxide in the air. I swear…I will… I will bite you. Then we’ll really need a Lycanthropologist’s help.” Murdock threatened.
Face laughed sharply then went silent. Murdock was thankful for the quiet and even more so for the occasional brush of fingers over his hand and along his side as they sat in the darkness.
April 14 – 2 weeks till the Full Moon
“Remember how it used to be when Bosco and Hannibal were away?” Murdock sighed wistfully as Face sat at the end of his bed, flipping through Dr. Naughton’s ‘Lycanthrope Life’.
Since the book had been delivered a week ago, it would almost magically appear anytime they were alone. To the point where Murdock would rather have stuck to B.A.’s side than hear tales of the good doctor’s “insights” into werewolves.
“Face, don’t you think Bossman knows something’s up? You don’t read and now this book’s attached to you.” The pilot stripped off the long sleeve shirt and roughly rubbed a hand over the ragged scar on his right arm.
“What? This is on it.” Face wiggled the book with the non-descript murder mystery cover. “And shut up, I read all the time.”
“Yeah, magazines and dirty limericks on bathroom stalls.” Murdock chuckled at the offended look Face shot his way as he flung himself onto Face’s bunk.
“At this rate you can write your own book, ‘What to Expect When Your Boyfriend’s Wolfing.’ It’ll be a best seller! We’ll retire and you can buy me a track. And once a month I can chase Little Bunny Foo-Foo round and round in circles while you write the follow up, ‘Aftercare for Your Werewolf Partner’.
Murdock punctuated the important plans with sweeping gestures until Face put the book aside and grabbed one of his flailing hands as he shifted closer.
The movement effectively brought the pilot’s ramblings to a halt. He let out a shaky breath then asked, “Any luck finding a place for me to let my hair down?”
“Not yet. But I did get a lead from Ray about this bunker in Karma. I’ll go check it out in a few days.” Face answered and entwined their fingers.
“Well, don’t forget my list of demands. They’re very important. I absolutely refuse to…”
“Murdock. Hey.” Face gave his hand a squeeze and Murdock found a bit of focus as the other man continued.
“I’ll take care of you. I promise.”
April 28 – 4 hours to moon rise
Murdock was supposed to grab some last minute things that Face thought they might need. After throwing them in his pack he found himself unable to move from his bunk where he now sat, hands twisting his cap.
He’d been trembling constantly for the past 12 hours, starting right before he’d crawled in behind Face that morning. He’d pressed himself along the length of the Lieutenant’s back, his whole body violently shaking.
“What…?” Face groggily questioned before he’d rolled over, Murdock vaguely making out his features in the dimness.
“I can’t do this.” Murdock whispered, fingers digging into Face’s bicep.
“Yes, you can. We got it.” Face’s hand came up to tangle in Murdock’s messy hair.
“What if something goes wrong? What if we get caught? What if I hurt you…or worse?” Murdock felt his voice get more frantic after each question, no matter how hard he tried to keep it steady.
“Shhh, shhh. You’re gonna wake up B.A.” Face brought Murdock close, noses slotted alongside each other as their foreheads touched. “We don’t have a choice. There’s no other option. It’ll work. I know it.”
Words that should have been soothing had Murdock struggling to sit up. “Fuck that, Temp. That’s bullshit. Why won’t you say it?”
“H.M.” Face groaned as B.A.’s snores hitched in the dark. Once the other man settled , Face sat up and leaned against the pilot. “Say what?”
“That there’s a possibility of it getting royally fucked. Even more than it already is. That it won’t be ok. I just need to know that you know.”
Murdock knew Face had spent the last month pouring over books, files, anything that looked even remotely legit on the internet, even things that didn’t. But he needed Face to understand what could happen. That at some point things might not be bad but they’d never truly be right again.
He tried riding out the tremors, waiting for Face to say something. Instead his friend reached out and brought Murdock back down to the mattress, wrapping himself around the pilot. Where they silently stayed as darkness started to fade into light.
“That shit ain’t cool.” B.A.’s frustrated groan woke Murdock and he focused on Face’s throat before craning over his shoulder to glance at B.A.
“Y’all being stupid. You know that?”
Murdock saw the annoyance but caught something else flicker across the big man’s features before he turned to leave. It made him wonder if B.A. was talking about them being tangled together or something else entirely.
At the sharp bark of his rank, Murdock’s head shot up to see Hannibal standing just inside the doorway.
Pushing to his feet, he tugged his cap low to avoid eye contact. “Hey, Hannibal, just on my way out.”
He tried to slide by but Hannibal blocked the entrance and grasped his right arm. Recognition sweeping over the older man’s face as his hold tightened.
Murdock met the Colonel’s gaze and it took every ounce of strength not to break right then. “It’s good, sir. Everything’s fine.”
Hannibal sighed and didn’t let go. “I talked to Dr. Ritcher. You know this…”
“Really running late, Bossman. Catch ya’ on the flip side.” Murdock cut him off, wrenching his arm free and rushing out. Not looking back as he made his way to find Face.
April 28 – 3 hours to moon rise
“General Morrison, we have an issue at hand that needs to be discussed.”
Morrison placed papers on his desk and turned to the blond S.D.A. agent that stepped out of the shadows.
“Agent Lynch. What issue could be so important that you’re lurking around in the dark of my office?”
“It’s about the unit you sent into Khewa last month.” He made no further move as the General sat down.
“I thought that matter was closed.” Morrison pulled the decanter of Scotch out of a drawer and started to pour himself a drink.
“It was supposed to be, but over the last few weeks we’ve received intel that proves otherwise. We believe that one of the team was compromised during the containment.”
Scotch sloshed out of the glass as Morrison slammed it down. “That’s impossible. Hannibal would have come to me.”
“We’re not so sure the Colonel knows.” Lynch smirked as the news shook the General.
“You’re saying one of Smith’s team was bitten?” Morrison ran a hand over his face. “How sure is this intel of yours?”
“We’ve been monitoring the situation since Afghanistan and it’s enough that we need to move on this now. Moon rise is less than three hours.”
Morrison sighed heavily. “This is a goddamned mess. Which one of the boys is it?”
“Lieutenant Peck, General.”
April 28 – 2 hours to moon rise
“We need to talk.”
Hannibal didn’t have time to respond before General Morrison moved back inside his tent. He knew he needed to find B.A. so they could go after Face and Murdock but Russ’ brisk order didn’t give him an option for refusal.
“Sit down.” Morrison pointed at a chair before taking a seat himself. “Hannibal, we’ve known each other for a very long time. I would like to think you would come to me if there was trouble with any of your boys.”
“Of course.” Hannibal knew what was coming next.
“Good, then there’s no reason for me to beat around the bush here. Agent Lynch came to me with some distressing information. Seems the S.D.A. has reason to believe Lt. Peck may have been bitten by the werewolf from the Afghanistan containment.
‘Face?’ Hannibal wasn’t able to disguise all of his shock but didn’t correct Russ’ assumption of the meaning behind it.
“So you didn’t know. I knew you’d come to me if you did.” The General nodded. “They’re out there looking for your boy, Hannibal. Lynch wasn’t stupid enough to tell me where they thought he was. But now that you know, you need to find him before they do.”
Hannibal stood abruptly not needing to hear anymore. “Thank you, Russ.” He left the tent and went in search of B.A., not getting far before the mechanic found him.
“I’ve been looking all over for you. Ray was running off at the mouth earlier ‘bout something in Karma. We ain’t got nothing going on out there.”
“Karma?” Hannibal questioned before realization dawned. “That’s where they cleaned out that huge bunker recently.”
“Yeah, but what’s that got…Hannibal, please tell me that ain’t where…” B.A. frustratedly ran a hand over his Mohawk.
The Colonel looked at his watch. “We need to leave now if we want to make it out there before moon rise.”
April 28 – 1 hour to moon rise
“I’m really disappointed you didn’t carry me over the threshold, Faceman.” Murdock snickered as he stepped into the dim entryway of the building. They’d ditched the jeep at an abanded outpost three miles back and risked the trip on foot rather than have a vehicle parked like a bulls-eye outside the lone structure in the desert.
Face didn’t respond, just rolled his eyes as he went to clear the other room.
He came back and stopped in the doorway to watch Murdock, sitting on top of the chest-style freezer while using the lamp to make shadow puppets on the wall.
The ride from base had been too quiet, except for the occasional jostle of limbs against the door or dash as Murdock’s jittery movements intensified. By the time they’d left the jeep, the pilot had stripped down to his undershirt and started intensely scratching along the bite-shaped, violent scar.
“Murdock, you gotta stop.” Face had pulled the pilot’s hand away, exposing the red welts up and down his arm. But Murdock just shrugged as he started whistling something that sounded too much for face’s comfort like ‘Werewolves of London’.
Face shook his head, his stomach giving a heave and he cursed the food he’d choked down before they left.
“We need to move this thing.” Face tapped the freezer.
“What’d Ray say they found here anyway?” Murdock hopped off and helped move the machine, revealing a trapdoor.
“Pretty stocked with food, a shit ton of ammo and weapons, satellite phones. Everything your friendly underground insurgent hideout could need.”
As Murdock held the lamp to light the stairs, Face went down first, Glock at the ready. After making sure the entire area was empty, Face re-holstered the pistol and walked over to where Murdock stood running his hand over a heavy door.
It had been a stroke of luck when Face heard Ray talking about the bunker his unit found a couple months before. Face got all the details and checked it out at the first chance he was able. The isolation coupled with the reinforced door of the room where the weapons were previously held and Face knew he’d found the right place.
“So this is where the magic is gonna happen?” Murdock pulled the door open, setting the lamp down as he entered the small room. “Well, it’s no Walthamstow, but it’ll do.”
Murdock gave him a grin and Face tried to ignore the bile that rose up as he cleared his throat. “I was reading and Naughton said…”
The other man groaned loudly. “Face, no more Dr. Werewolf. I can’t take it. It’s enough to drive someone to silver.”
His tone was flippant but Face grabbed Murdock’s arm hard. “Don’t fucking say that.”
“It’s just a joke. I’m not…” The pilot snapped with irritation that suddenly softened into understanding and Face knew Murdock felt the tremors that radiated from his hand.
Face couldn’t listen anymore. Couldn’t stand to see the tender look on Murdock’s face so he lunged forward, crushing their mouths together. Face clutched at the pilot with anxious, pleading hands for what felt like a lifetime before Murdock answered, hauling Face against him with matching desperation.
Everything narrowed down to the slick slide of tongue and sharp bite of teeth, as hands roughly snatched and pulled to gain access to warm bare flesh.
Face held Murdock tight as he pushed them down onto the makeshift padding of their discarded clothes. He immediately set to dragging his mouth over exposed skin, only to be interrupted by the pilot’s hand moving across his cheek, trying to get him to look up. But he didn’t dare. He knew if he did he’d lose what little control on the panic he had left.
Instead he resumed his path, the heady taste of Murdock putting distance between himself and the tight feeling in his chest.
Face laved the red mark his teeth made against sharp hipbone before the pilot reached down and grabbed his hand in a vise-like grip. It was uncomfortable but he needed the anchor surely as much as Murdock.
They moved together chaotically. Heated gasps and cries the only sound that filled the room, their mingled scent blocking out the once musty staleness in the air around them.
Their rhythm was frantic, as if they could somehow out race the moon and what it held.
“Temp.” Murdock choked with a sob, his hold becoming painful as he squeezed their entwined fingers. And as the pilot arched up beneath him, the only thing Face could do was shatter apart with his own release.
Before Face could shift, arms wrapped around him, pulling his weight heavily onto Murdock’s slighter frame.
He knew the clock was ticking, but the lazy patterns traced on his skin and a tune not werewolf related being hummed lowly in his ear kept Face stationary. He was dangerously close to dozing but when Murdock’s body went rigid, Face snapped to full attentiveness and looked into his lover’s terrified face.
“Get up.” Murdock ordered, barely above a whisper.
Face felt his heart begin to pound in his chest and though he knew movement was vital, he instead pressed his mouth to the unresponsive one below. “I love you, I love you.”
“Get off me!” Murdock growled and Face shouted as nailed dragged burning lines over his shoulder blades.
The searing pain set him in motion, grabbing his clothes and holster. Murdock tried to stand but fell over onto all fours with a scream that echoed around the room and had Face covering his ears.
The screams, unlike anything Face had ever heard, continued as he kept his eyes on Murdock, exposed by the lamp like in some grotesque spotlight.
Dense fur started to sprout all over Murdock’s writhing, changing body. His back undulated; muscles and bones broke and grew as they shifted into new positions. The screams and the sounds of stretching, tearing flesh, a soundtrack to the visual horror, that held Face transfixed.
Facial bones dislocated with snapping sounds Face was sure he’d hear in nightmares for the rest of his life.
Murdock clawed at the floor, leaving deep gouges as jaws popped and extended, making room for deadly, razor sharp teeth.
“Jesus Christ.” Face’s exclamation had Murdock’s head whipping around in his direction. His screams becoming a more animalistic howl as he charged. Face scrambled to his feet, making it out as the door shuddered with bodily impact. “Oh, you fucker, hold.”
Face could barely hear his own thoughts above the snarls and howls that accompanied the determine bangs against the metal. It was so loud that he had a moment of confusion when the door stilled and the noises from inside stopped.
While the sounds of ragged breathing came from the room, Face grabbed the extra lamp and shined it through the opening.
The beast, Murdock, was hunched on all fours but once the light was noticed stood straight. Taller, slightly bulkier than the pilot and covered in thick fur the exact color of Murdock’s hair.
“Hey, buddy, you’re ok.”
At his voice the beast tilted its head and large, clawed hands flexed. Its short muzzle inhaled deeply before it barreled forward causing Face to leap back as it pressed its snout through the small window, sniffing the air intently.
Piercing green eyes, so familiar, yet not, tracked face’s movements as he slipped on his clothes and start pacing.
“We’re good. Just stay here till morning, easy enough.” Face propped a chair along the wall facing the room and started to sit when Murdock’s head jerked toward the bunker entrance.
When growls, deep and angry started, Face slipped his pistol out of the holster, unthinkingly ‘Shhing’ as he started up the stairs. Not that it made any difference, as soon as he opened the door; howls began to echo from below.
“Fuck.” Face muttered, making his way out into the largest room and hastily doing another sweep of the building.
The howls tapered off as he started to the outside door and that’s when he heard footballs. Face cocked and pointed his pistol as the door opened.
“Don’t fucking move.” He ordered before a bright light had him throwing his hand up to shield his eyes.
“Stand down, kid.”
“Hannibal?” Face blinked rapidly as the light shifted away. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Could ask you the same thing. Where’s Murdock?” B.A.’s voice came from behind Hannibal and the lack of ‘fool’ or ‘crazy’ set Face on alert and he moved in front of the bunker door.
“Why didn’t you come to me?” Face heard the disappointment and was glad the light was turned to the opposite wall, making the Colonel’s expression almost unreadable.
“It’s under control.” Face answered tightly as he watched his teammates.
“No, Face, it’s not. You’re careless. The S.D.A. is on the way. What made you think they wouldn’t be monitoring the situation? You didn’t. You didn’t think at all.”
“What the hell was I supposed to do, Hannibal? What would have been your big plan to take care of this?” Face felt himself lose the slim grasp on his panic as the howls started up again. “Should I just have let them take him? Goddamn it, it’s Murdock!”
“Get out of my way, fool.” B.A. stepped forward, shoving Face aside as he took off down the stairs.
At the bottom of the landing Face almost ran into the mechanic who’d pulled up short, staring at the clawed hand that struck out of the door’s opening.
With B.A. immobile with shock Face took the advantage, rushing to put himself between his teammates and Murdock. “Get away. Get away from him!”
“Face, stop. We’re trying to help.” Hannibal offered and Face saw the deep concern etched on the Colonel’s face.
“B.A., give me the tranquilizer.” The order said with enough force that it got the mechanic moving again.
“Tranquilizer?” Face knew there wasn’t another option even as he questioned the plan.
“We’ve got to move, Face.” Hannibal said setting gun.
“No. No. I’ll do it.” Face held out his hand and tried to ignore the look of concern the older man gave him.
“Give me the goddamned thing, Boss. We don’t have time, remember?” Face took the tranq gun and stepped close to the door, not caring about the danger. “Murdock.”
The beast stopped pacing and slammed itself against the door, causing Hannibal and B.A. to instinctively reach for their weapons.
Face whipped around as the beast started to growl. “What the hell are you doing? It’s Murdock. It’s still Murdock!”
He swiped a hand across his face to remove the damp evidence of his distress as hot, moist breath suddenly rushed against his cheek.
“I love you.” Face soothingly murmured as green eyes bore into him. Without a second thought he reached through the window and held his hand open. ‘I love you. I trust you.’
Ignoring the shocked protests behind him he tried not to jerk when a chuffing muzzle was pressed to his palm, rough tongue laving at the wet saltiness of his tears.
“I’m gonna take care of you, I promise.” Face said, gently pulling his hand back.
As he started to lift the gun a loud bang came from the building above and the bunker door was flung open.__________________
1 Nahual: A human who can magically change into an animal. In this case a jaguar.
2 Bashmu: Venomous viper with forelegs.
3 Girtablilu: Scorpion Man