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Points for Spelling

Points for Spelling

By Lachesis

 

Rating:     PG-13(ish) for language

Pairings:  Face/Murdock

Archive:    It’s all good baby, with the courtesy of a request.

Website:  http://www.smut-peddlers.net

Summary:   Good days, bad days, two explosions, and three kisses, and not necessarily in that order.

Disclaimer:  If they were mine, the show couldn't have been on network television.

Warnings:   Slash.  But nothing much besides that, well, except I gently slur the Republican party... And Kmart... And canned soup, but other than that, ya know, pretty tame.

Notes:         I never watched The A-Team until one day, while bored and unemployed, I pulled up one of Emma Stark's lovely stories when I was Googling for something unrelated (okay, I'm a pervert, I was looking for Bonanza slash). It took me a few minutes to pin point the fandom, but once I did, I had to check out the show. It's formulaic and cheesy and occasionally insulting, but weirdly fun, and honestly, I didn't see a whole lotta subtext, but I don't need much. I'd like to thank Wonder!Sandy, who beta'd while drunk (which, in a happy coincidence, is much the same way I write.)

 

 

She said, "A good day ain't got no rain."
She said, "A bad day's when I lie in bed
and think of things that might've been."

Slip Sliding Away -- Paul Simon

 

Huddled on a motel bathroom floor, wet clothes making the dingy tile slick, stockinged feet pressed against the cold porcelain tub, wishing in vain for a nicotine fix or a fifth of scotch or, in a more perfect world, both; it was easy to employ hindsight and realize he’d been …well … a tad obtuse.

 

“Are you coming out of there?” Murdock asked him through the wafer-thin door separating them.

 

“I’m thinking of sleeping in here,” Face replied.

 

“Now you’re just being an asshole,” Murdock muttered, and the door creaked as he leaned against it.

 

An obtuse asshole.  Boy oh boy.  You mix a few signals, have a bad day, and suddenly you’re an asshole.  Or maybe it wasn’t so sudden.

 

The first time Murdock kissed him, Face had thought nothing of it.  Almost nothing.  Anyway, what with the rousting of the villains, the gratitude of the oppressed and honest client, and the explosive and fiery destruction of private property, it was no wonder that Murdock felt a little more exuberant than usual.  No wonder, really, that Murdock grabbed Face, kissed him squarely on the mouth in a fit of over-enthusiasm and brotherly affection. 

 

That was what Face told himself as he watched Murdock bound towards the van and he covered his still-tingling lips with his hand.

 

Overall, though, a pretty good day.

 

The second time Murdock kissed him was at the end of a perfect grift – it had sweeping vistas, designer clothes, and a deviousness that could only be attributed to divine inspiration.  There’d been props, plots, sub-plots, and motifs, dammit, and just when the buxom, dewy-eyed heiress was whispering suggestions in his ear for how she could, uh, express her gratitude for all his hard work (oh, and incidentally saving the nature preserve and its endangered inhabitants bequeathed to her by her murdered father from the evil oil-drilling conglomerate) Murdock yanked him from her promising embrace and planted another lip-numbing kiss on Face.

 

In an eerily accurate echo of Face’s own thoughts, the buxom, dewy-eyed heiress muttered, “Crap, not again!” (only with considerable more bitterness) and flounced away, leaving the bewildered conman to watch his teammate skip back to the van.

 

When Face had joined the rest of the team by the van, he noticed that BA’s scowl had a nuance of puzzlement, and maybe Hannibal’s grin seemed a little frozen, but otherwise there was no reason  for any of them to think this was anything but Murdock’s latest quirk, and had nothing whatsoever to do with Face, beyond proximity.

 

A day, over all, he couldn’t find much to complain about.

 

But today, even couched in the kindest terms he could think of, could only be described as disastrous.  Their payment was blown up along with the usual conflagration of private property, Decker was not only in pursuit, but uncomfortably close, it was raining so hard that Face’s hair was beginning to frizz, and all before the van slid off the road and got stuck in the mud.  In the ensuing effort to free the van, Face lost one of his loafers (Gucci, no less) in the sucking vortex of ooze, and sure, the bruise on his jaw -- landed by a lucky punch from one of the goons they’d faced -- didn’t look like much, but it certainly hurt like hell and he was pretty sure one of his caps was jarred loose.  And what did he get for his trouble?  Scowling and threats from BA (not to mention a rather mean-spirited giggle when he lost his shoe), plans that routinely jeopardized life and limb from Hannibal.  And from Murdock, yet another kiss. 

 

Just after they’d scrambled back into the freed van and Face had slid the door shut, Murdock grabbed him by the soggy lapels of his sports coat (Ralph Lauren, ruined also, no doubt) and proceeded to use his tongue to tap out a message in Morse code on Face’s tonsils. 

 

It took a moment of frantic scrambling, but Face pushed Murdock back into his seat.  Face stared at him and Murdock just grinned and winked.

 

“That’s not pals, Murdock!” Face gasped and Murdock’s grin dropped and his eyes met Face’s with a strange intensity.

 

“No, it ain’t,” Murdock said.  Face could actually feel the blood draining all the way down to his toes. 

 

“Everything okay back there?” Hannibal said in tone that implied that he did not want to hear otherwise.

 

“Yes,” Face snapped.

 

“No,” Murdock muttered.

 

“Settle it on your own time,” Hannibal snapped and that was the end of that.  The rest of their trip was spent in sullen silence.

 

What seemed like hours later, having finally shaken off Decker, and the rain having thinned out to a drizzle, they pulled into some backwater, podunk town (called Danville or  Critter Holler, or maybe Deliverance, Face was beyond caring), population 150 – all of whom, Face thought uncharitably, were related by blood or marriage or both.  The van rolled into the parking lot of the only open establishment, whose fractured neon sign stuttered ominously in glowing red “We come to Hel,” while assuring them there were vacancies and air conditioning.

 

Face dutifully (and with, he thought, an admirable lack of whining) limped one-shoed into the lobby and informed the bleary-eyed night clerk, who was wearing a t-shirt that proudly displayed his slavish devotion to Loverboy, that he wanted two rooms in the back.  He even managed to smile when the kid took in his appearance and asked for cash.  Face took a deep breath, inhaled the scent of pot and failing deodorant wafting from the clerk, and took out his (watermarked!) Louis Vuitton wallet.

 

***

 

The hotel room was an insult to practically every aesthetic that Face held dear:  carpeting, if he had a choice, he wouldn’t have walked barefoot across; furniture, consisting mostly of plywood and plastic, bolted to the floor; cigarette-burned bed covers whose pattern had a disturbing resemblance to camouflage.   In short, it was everything he expected.  He threw his remaining shoe in the trash can.

 

BA, to no one’s surprise, but much to Face’s consternation, had flatly refused to share a room with Murdock.  Hannibal had grinned around his cigar and slapped Face on the shoulder.

 

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” he had said, plucking one of the keys from Face’s hand.

 

“I think I’m evidence to the contrary,” Murdock had said, throwing his arm around Face’s shoulder as Hannibal and BA went in search of the room they were sharing. 

 

Which brought him to this bathroom floor, listening to the rain ticking against the window  and wondering how he could have been so careless, because somehow Murdock knew and was using that knowledge to torment him and if he hadn’t been right then it all could have been laughed off and attributed to Murdock’s usual wackiness, and they wouldn’t be arguing through the door.

 

“You’re mad,” Murdock said.

 

“I am not mad!” Face replied, realizing with a chagrin that couldn’t quite diffuse his anger, that if he was going to insist upon lying about it, he might try not shouting.

 

“It’s more convincing when you don’t shout,” Murdock said sulkily.

 

“Shut up,” Face retorted, and thinking it was strange that his stomach still felt shaky from coming down from the chase-induced adrenaline high earlier – hello, addiction.

 

For a moment he let his inner brat silently wail against the indignities he was being subjected to:  sheets that had a thread count of cardboard, a comforter that had all the give of aluminum siding, and the buzz, hum, and skin-sallowing effects of fluorescent lighting …the list seemed endless today.

 

Oh, yeah.  Add Murdock and those kisses to the list.

 

“I’m having a lousy day, Murdock,” he said.  “And I have no shoes.  If I didn’t think tomorrow would be better, I’d slit my wrists.  And don’t think I’ve forgotten about that, that kissing thing.  What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“According to Messrs. Merriam and Webster, it means ‘to touch with the lips especially as a mark of affection or greeting,” Murdock replied.  “I’ve read up to ‘masticated’ – which isn’t as salacious as it sounds or as chewy as it implies. “

 

Face was tired and not a little terrified of the answer, but he had to ask.  “So, which is it?”

 

“Mostly it was dry and papery, kind of a bitter aftertaste,” Murdock said.

 

“The kisses.  Focus a little here, okay?” Face snapped.

 

“You know, for a guy who purports to live by his wits, your lack of imagination comes as an unpleasant surprise,” Murdock said.

 

“My lack of imagination?” Face sputtered.  “What are you talking about?”

 

“Is everything so black and white to you?  Either or?  This rigidity of thought could be the first step in the slippery slide to mundanity.  Next thing you know you’ll be living in a trailer, eating Dinty Moore straight from the can, voting Republican...”

 

“I‘m a convicted felon, I can’t vote,” Face interrupted.  “Even discounting that whole ‘on the lam’ aspect of my life.”

 

“Watching reruns of the Love Boat,” Murdock continued undaunted, and then his voice lowered to a sinister hiss.  “Shopping for clothes at Kmart.”

 

Face couldn’t quite stifle his horrified gasp.  “You take that back!”

 

“Open the door and make me,“ Murdock responded.  Face didn’t.  Instead, he kicked the tub with his heel.

 

“That sounded like it hurt,” Murdock said.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Face said.  “Is it … is this a love thing?” he choked.  Because vain and shallow he might be, but he wasn’t a coward.

 

Murdock didn’t answer immediately.  Face could hear Murdock’s shoulders move against the  door as he shifted his weight, taking a deep breath and letting it out again. 

 

“We’ve been best friends since we were practically kids, so, you know…” Murdock said.   Face concentrated on the vibration of wood beneath his shoulders as Murdock talked.  He was not prepared to analyze the implications of that remark, not yet anyway.   And maybe that was why, he later reflected, Murdock was vague.

 

“You know, I don’t need a fuck buddy. I’ve practically got a waiting list, ” Face said.

 

“The seventies were good to you, but no, I don’t want to be your fuck buddy,” Murdock said and Face heard a bit of petulance in his tone. 

 

He heard Murdock moving around again, and when he spoke his voice was closer, as if he was sitting on the floor with his back resting against the door between them.

 

“Are you coming out of there?” Murdock asked. Three-fourths of an inch of hollow wood between them wasn’t nearly enough. Face’s heart was beating hard enough he could feel it in his fingertips.

 

“Just give me a minute,” Face said. 

 

“I know I ain’t your usual cup o’ joe,” Murdock said.  “Can’t really give you penthouses or beach front property or haute cuisine.  I could probably get my hands on a Barbie Town House, though, and I make a mean chili.  Do you have a sliding scale for the mentally ill?”

 

Face wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

 

“Just be quiet for a minute,” Face said softly.

 

Something strange and fragile and scary as hell twitched in his rib cage.  It wasn’t an entirely alien feeling, it just stirred something deeper  than he usually allowed himself to explore. His fight or flight instinct thumped in his chest in time with his heartbeat, maybe left over from the escape earlier that day.  Maybe…

 

The cheap linoleum floor was making his butt cold, and where it wasn’t cold, it was numb.  Face wasn’t angry any more.  He was miserable and he was making Murdock miserable.  He stood up and opened the door. 

 

Murdock scrambled to his feet, thrust his hands in his pockets and didn’t quite meet Face’s eyes.

 

Despite knowing that the game was up, Face couldn’t quite let it go.

 

“What makes you think this is something I’d be interested in?” Face asked softly.  Murdock drew a hand out of his pocket, pulling out a small black address book.

 

“You dropped this,” Murdock said.

 

“Three months ago!” Face exclaimed, taking the book.  He thought he had lost it at that damn deli Murdock liked so much – the one that served half a pound of meat on every sandwich.  He’d taken Murdock there for lunch one afternoon and in return, Murdock lifted his little black book.  His heart fairly swelled with pride.

 

“Yeah, well, it took me a while to decipher the code,” Murdock shrugged.  “Sure the Greek symbols for male and female were pretty obvious, but other than that it was a little trickier and life at the institution isn’t all group therapy sessions and tiddly-winks – I get a fair amount of down time and this sure beats crossword puzzles.”

 

Face thumbed through the pages, let the edges tickle his fingertips.

 

“So you think you’ve got me all figured out, huh?”  he asked.

 

“Actually, no. There’s one thing I haven’t figured out,” Murdock said.

 

“Just one thing?”

 

“Yeah,” Murdock said.  “I haven’t figured out why you haven’t kissed me back yet.”

 

“Ah, well, I,” Face stammered. Murdock quirked an eyebrow.

 

“Would you have preferred something more romantic?” he asked. “I know some poetry.” He cleared his throat.  “There once was a man from Nantucket...”

 

“No poetry!” Face interrupted, taking a step forward.

 

“Compliments?” Murdock prompted.

 

Face reached up and plucked the blue baseball cap from Murdock’s head. He dropped his address book in the hat and tossed them both on the dresser.

 

“No.”

 

“Sweets?  Cause I think I saw a soda machine near the ice machine,” Murdock asked, his gaze lingering on Face’s mouth. Face licked his lips, leaned a little closer. Murdock mirrored him.

 

“I haven’t kissed you,” Face said, close enough to feel Murdock’s exhalation against his cheek. “Because I don’t like being chased.”

 

“Is that c-h-a-s-t-e or c-h-a-s-e-d?” Murdock asked.

 

“C-h-a-s-e-d, for God’s sake, Murdock,” Face sputtered and stepped back.

 

“Spelling counts!” Murdock retorted.

 

“So does timing,” Face said.

 

“You’ve known me damn near half your life, how much more timing do you need?” Murdock asked.

 

Face couldn’t help but note how pronounced Murdock’s drawl became when he was riled up and he was on the verge of saying something hopelessly romantic like, ‘I was hoping for another forty years at least,’ but he bit his tongue to stop himself.  No point in saying things he wasn’t sure he could follow through on, not to Murdock anyway, who’d be around to know the difference. There’s the rub, he sighed inwardly.

 

“I want to be sure,” Face said.

 

“I’m sure,” Murdock said.

 

“You have intermittent memory loss and you’re delusional,” Face said.  “How can you be sure?”

 

“How do you know you’ll wake up in the morning?” Murdock asked.

 

“I don’t,” Face said.

 

“Doesn’t keep you from sleeping though,” Murdock said.

 

“Well, that’s kind of creepy,” Face said.

 

“I’m just saying that I know you and you know me,” Murdock said.  “And if we didn’t have any trust between us, well, we’d be like insomniacs, counting cracks in the ceiling or going over every little mistake we’ve ever made, or we’d work third shift or be caffeine-addicted, or whatever, but my point is, because I do have one, stop rolling your eyes, is we trust that we’ll wake up in the morning, because the alternative is that we die in our sleep…Whoa, that is kinda creepy.”

 

Face did not reply for a moment and then he grinned and said, “Is that just a round about way of asking if I’ll sleep with you?”

 

“Not without kissing me first,” Murdock answered. 

 

“Okay,” Face said and he approached Murdock again, placing his hands on Murdock’s waist.

 

“Okay?” Murdock repeated.  Face nodded, hands soaking in the warmth of Murdock’s skin through the thin fabric of his t-shirt.  Easy enough, this part, bodies just brushing each other, feeling the nervous stutter of Murdock’s in-drawn breath as his hands slipped around to Murdock’s back, pulling their bodies together, chest and hip.  Face’s thoughts were alternately urging him forward and shrieking at him to fall back, but his heart was where it had been for the past fifteen years, very firmly in Murdock’s trust.  He tilted his face up to meet Murdock’s and kissed him for the first time, and the second, and the third, and until he completely lost count, until they blurred together in a languor of open mouths, soft lips, and eager tongues.  They kissed until they were breathless and weak-kneed and aching. 

 

 

Later, as Murdock snored quietly in his ear and sprawled in a way that suggested he was not accustomed to sharing a bed, Face watched a sliver of light from an outdoor light play on the ceiling and listened to the rhythm of Murdock’s breathing in comforting contrast to the rain on the roof and windows.  Face was warm and sleepy and thoroughly sated but not quite ready to admit the day was over and go to sleep. Murdock stirred and moaned and blinked sleep-blurred eyes at Face.

 

“You’ll ruin my analogy if you don’t go to sleep,” he muttered.

 

“It’s been a really good day,” Face said. Murdock rubbed his stubbled chin against Face’s shoulder.

 

“Tomorrow will be better,” he said.  Face was helpless not to believe it and closed his eyes.

 

 

End


Points For Spelling by Lachesis

 

 


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