FEB 09
Loving Care
Holiday: Read in the Bathtub Day


Murdock lay back in the tub. He didn't really believe it would make him feel better, but it was easier than arguing. And he wanted easy right now. Maybe forever.

It had started out so well, too. He and Face, a whole weekend without any interruptions, without any bad guys to chase. No BA growling at him, or Hannibal humoring him. Just the two of them in a fancy penthouse suite, plenty of good food, good drink, good conversation, good...

That's the way it was supposed to have been. And the first couple hours, it was great. Everything they had planned, working up to just the right mood.

Instead his mood had gone into the shitter.

Just like that.

Face knew what was happening almost before Murdock himself did. After all this time, he usually did. So instead of fixing dinner together, Face excused himself, drew the bath and told Murdock to go in and relax for a while first.

Subtle.

Smart.

Murdock shifted in the tub, adjusting his head on the rolled-up towel behind it. Yeah, he wasn't so far gone he hadn't recognized what Face was doing. And why. He sighed. At the beginning of these downward spirals, Murdock's temper was short. Very short. Like coming down with the flu, everything irritated, and the irritation was worse because he didn't know why he was irritated. He just was. And Face knew that, thank God.

Instead of remarking on Murdock's tense demeanor, he 'noticed' how tense his muscles were. The pretense of a backrub, then the suggestion of the hot bath. To work the knots out.

Yeah, Face was smooth, all right.

Murdock looked at the little table beside the tub. There was a small book there. Murdock didn't remember seeing it before, not at any of Face's previous digs. He picked it up carefully, not wanting to get it wet.

He looked at the cover and shook his head, a small smile forcing its way out. A photo of a sunset, a single word in soft script. No wonder he hadn't seen it before.

Face would hardly leave a book of poetry out for the guys to see.

Murdock lay it back down on the table, and sank a little further into the tub. It was cooling off now. He sat up, added more hot water. He started to lay back down, then glanced over at the book.

Why had Face left it there?

For Murdock?

He picked it up again and opened it. Well, at least the poems were short. One page at most. He glanced suspiciously at the door before reading the first one.

Not bad.

He settled once more down in the warm water. He read the next. And then the next. No people in these poems. Just... thoughts. Descriptions of fields, and woods, and flower gardens. But not flowery poems. Just...

Nice.

He continued to read, each poem short enough to keep his attention, long enough to paint soft images in his mind. He needed those images. Quiet, relaxing images.

By the time he finished the little book, the water had again cooled to lukewarm. Laying the book almost reverently on the little table, he climbed out of the tub and dried himself off with the thick, soft towel. He leaned against the wall for a moment, eyes closed. Smiling softly, he pulled on the robe hanging on the door, and stepped into the hallway.

The apartment was dark except for a dull glow coming from the bedroom. He moved down the hall and stood in the doorway. Face was there in the bed, staring up at the ceiling. He looked over as Murdock moved closer to the bed. Murdock couldn't see his eyes in the dim light, but knew there was a question there.

The depression wasn't gone, but it was... softer now. More... melancholy. He wanted nothing more tonight than to be lightly held, to know that he wasn't alone.

And he knew Face would understand.

FINI