The Thing About
Chapter: Nine.
Series: Gorillaz.
Rating: NC/17, to be on the safe side. Foul language, angst, and slash (Murdoc/2D).
Disclaimer: Albarn's and Hewlett's.
Chapter Warnings: Dry, quick-moving, soveryminor slashy hints. Mmmcliffhanger.

You have no... idea how hard it was to pump this out. But I managed, didn't I? Yes I did.
This chapter was... me hurdling over a very long, very... um, devastating? writer's block. It's dry, and fullofstuff, because I want to draw out the next ones in length. I hope it doesn't disappoint, and I hope I can regain some of the strength I used to have in writing.

The rain continued in off and on sporadic waves for the next two weeks.

A storm was brewing, somewhere above and beyond the murky watercolour grey of the sky. It was heavy in the air, like a dead weight drifting in and out of the lingering fog.

A storm was brewing elsewhere, too.

Toward the end of that second week, Murdoc had finally woken up as 2D tried to leave. Murdoc was a heavy sleeper, and light sleep came on rare occasion. Perhaps it was the shifting of the mattress, or the sudden lack of weight and warmth beside him, but i something /i had caught the attention of Murdoc's consciousness enough to ease it out of sleep.

2D had just been sitting up and moving his legs over the edge of the mattress when Murdoc groggily reached out to catch his wrist. 2D grunted quietly and turned to look down at him with surprise.

"Where're y'goin, eh?"

2D was quiet for a moment. "... back to me room."

Murdoc was battling fatigue and losing. "So eager t'leave me, aintcha."

This moment of silence was a bit longer than the last. 2D hadn't quite been prepared to talk to the bassist until later on in the day. "Sorry I woke yeh."

"Are you depressed?" Murdoc blurted, because it seemed, to his half-coherent mind, like a marvelous question to ask the nude singer sitting awkwardly on the edge of his bed at four in the morning.

2D stared at him through the semi-darkness. "Uh?"

"Do y'cut yerself?"

That one earned him a weird look. "Nnnno."

"Wanna kill yerself?"

"Wot're you on about?"

The more his mind woke up, the more Murdoc realized how little sense he was making.

He tried again.

"Look." He sat up, his grip on 2D's wrist loosening a little. The singer made no move to pull his hand away. "Y'been driving everyone batshit fruity lately and it's gotta stop, man. It's getting on everybody's nerves."

Murdoc could just barely see 2D face mold into a frown.

"M'not doin nothin'," he muttered defensively.

"S'that right?" His hand fell away from 2D's wrist. "First you sulk, then you're all stand-offish, and then you sulk some more. You're actin' like a moody girl and I feel like a bomb's ready to go off somewhere in that dank, empty carcass of yours."

2D didn't say anything. His gaze rose to the back window, shrouded by a confederate flag but still letting some light through, and he stared at it. Vacant. Looking, but not seeing.

A long silence rolled by.

"Out with it," Murdoc urged, but 2D only grimaced. So, despite how irritated he was getting, he kept quiet and waited. A few times during the long, awkward gap of nothing but their breathing - Murdoc's slow and steady, 2D's quick and nervous - 2D looked like he was getting ready to say something, but he kept stopping himself. Murdoc just grit his teeth, lay back, and let him collect his thoughts.

He fell asleep again before 2D would regroup himself. When he woke up a few hours later, the singer was gone.

And the first crack of thunder hit. Hard.

They'd all been suspicious when 2D hadn't emerged from his room once the afternoon came around.

Noodle passed by the room several times over the course of the morning, and once or twice, she stopped to place a tentative ear to the door. The chilling silence, the utter lack of anything coming from the other side left her unnerved, and by five o'clock or so, she finally brought her concerns to Russel.

"D?" Russell asked when he got to the door, Noodle clinging to one of his hands while the other rapped knuckles on the damaged wood.

No answer. Noodle was expecting that. She chewed on her bottom lip as Russel tried again.

Still nothing.

"You better be dead in there," Russel grumbled as he reached for the doorknob and pushed the door open.

2D's room was in its usual state of disarray. The blankets of his bed were spilling from the bed to the floor, clothing was strewn across the floor, and papers and bottles littered 2D's nightstand and keyboard desk.

2D wasn't there.

Noodle stepped timidly into the room, glancing around. Russel followed her.

"...where the hell...?" and he trailed off when a dab of yellow on an otherwise black and white instrument caught his eye.

A shiver worked its way up his spine as he approached the keyboard.

It was definitely a note. He picked it up and read it. Noodle lingered behind him, nervous, wringing her small hands.

Only two words.

"Out. Searching."

The band kept the disappearance behind Kong's closed doors. Russel politely turned down interviews and nobody left the grounds.

Noodle panicked, at first, afraid of what may have happened to the singer with the storms starting up and the cemetery becoming active again. She refused to believe that 2D would leave them without discussing it with them, first.

Then, she fell into a quiet depression and tried her hardest to hold herself together, for her own sake. She put her guitar away. She relied on listening instead of playing. It helped her to think.

Russel was there to help her stay on her feet. Going out and looking for 2D would more than likely prove to be an absolute waste of time and energy that none of them seemed to have. He interrogated Murdoc, demanded to know if 2D had left him with any clues at all where he'd be disappearing to. Murdoc didn't know. He answered every question Russel threw at him with uncharacteristically sincere honesty.

Murdoc was not enjoying the sudden lack of 2D's presence, either. One of the best things about 2D was his presence.

He found himself missing him. Missing the taste and smell of his skin, missing the way he hummed to himself when he ate, missing the way he said his name like MUH-doc, missing his stupid gaping smile and his endlessly dark eyes. Missing. And craving. And wanting.

And falling asleep every early morning hating himself for it.

But 2D was fine, for the most part. He'd been using public transportation, he'd bothered to make a half-assed attempt at disguising himself (which worked), and half the time he was too sleep-deprived to even know what was going on or where he was heading. He finally fell asleep on a double-decker bus and wound up somewhere just beyond the borderline of Kent and London. Didn't know how he got there, but at least he knew where he was, and his wits were gathered enough to start heading home.

It had been almost two weeks since he left. Being alone did wonders for his mood and his self-confidence. The idea that he'd been turning around and around in his otherwise vacant head finally made sense, and he finally felt perfectly comfortable with it.

In his travels, he'd stopped at a small roadside convenience store London. As he leafed through a magazine he meant to buy while waiting in line for the register, he caught sight of a little girl reaching up to grab a candy bar from the top of the cash wrap. Her mother, in her attempts to stop her, accidentally struck her on the side of the head with her swinging shopping bag.

2D smiled to himself, almost sympathetically, as the mother quickly bent to pick her child up, murmuring a litany of apologies and smiling in a strained it-was-funny-but-I-shouldn't-laugh sort of way. The little girl's face started turning red and scrunched up on itself, ready to unleash a series of gut-wrenching sobs (only the way a child truly can), but instead, she pulled away to look her mother in the eye.

"Make it better!" she demanded, infuriated but endearing, and her mother kissed her, right where the bag had hit. She immediately calmed, and the angry flush drained from her cheeks.

2D watched them, in awe, as they left the store.

It had been made better with a very simple, almost mindless gesture of affection. That was all it needed.

2D took that memory with him, fresh in his mind, up until he finally made his way back to the gates of Kong Studios.

He returned to his band mates and his home absolutely exhausted, but somehow at peace with himself. Noodle was the first to reach him, throwing herself at him and clinging to him tightly, almost on the verge of tears as she demanded to know why he left, where he'd gone, how he could just randomly drop everything and abandon them, until her words tripped over one another on her tongue and she slid into chastising him in frantic Japanese that he didn't understand.

Russell was a little more understanding, placing a warm, careful hand on his shoulder and asking if he was all right. Even with such blank eyes, Russell's compassion and concern was heartbreakingly clear. 2D didn't say much; just held onto the girl hugging him around his too-thin waist, smiled tiredly, and reassured his drummer that he was fine, just "an ickle bit knackered".

Murdoc was there, lingering in the doorway. His arms were by his sides, his posture was straight and alert, and his face was cast with an unnerving, forced blankness. He had nothing to say. No chiding, no foul remarks. Nothing. He just stood, and stared, and looked as though he still couldn't process that 2D had even left to begin with.

2D was far beyond caring at that point. The whole goal of his trip was to help him forget. He was growing to like apathy, he found, because it was gloriously empty and unemotional. Not a care in the world. Comfortably numb.

"Why?" Noodle still wanted to know. "Why did you leave? Why didn't you say anything to us?"

The singer was tired. His body felt like it was weighted down and dragging. He bent to kiss Noodle on the top of her head. "I'll es'splain it all t'morrow," was all he offered to his worried band mates as he untangled himself from Noodle's arms and turned to brush wordlessly by Murdoc and head for his room.

Nobody stopped him, and nobody followed.

He explained the next day, just as he said he would.

"I been thinkin' bout summin' fer awhile," he said when the band gathered up in the studio kitchen. "An' I thinks it's time t'come out wiffit."

Russel and Noodle exchanged looks. Murdoc was admittedly curious, but impatient. The uncomfortable feeling that had been settling was now suffocating.

2D didn't falter. He was confident. It was a rare sight.

"I'mna hafta be honest. I love all of yehs like me own flesh'n blood. Don't matter how m'treated. Yer kin, an' m'happy t'ave known ya."

Deep breath.

"... but."