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The Velocity of Longing

The Velocity of Longing
By  Raine Wynd
 
Rated: NC-17
Warnings: Explicit sex and violence.  Face/Murdock, Face/Amy/Murdock.
Summary: Falling in love wasn't in the plan.

Disclaimer and Notes: Stephen J. Cannell owns 'em, I just borrow them. I'm of the firm belief that Amy went on more missions; they just didn't show them. J Thanks to Nevada for the beta. Thanks also to LizM, Billy, Viskey, Pam, Closetfan, and everyone on the ATSB list for helping make this better than when I started. Special thanks to shrewreader, for breaking my block on this. Any remaining errors are mine.

 

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Part 1

 

April 1990 – Wednesday

 

"So, have you won a Pulitzer yet? Nice office, by the way." His voice, laced with wry humor, underscored the fact that said office happened to be a cubicle large enough to host two guest chairs.

 

Startled, Amy jerked away from the computer screen and looked up over her battered typewriter at the owner of the voice. Recognition turned to joy as she realized who was standing there and she swiftly moved out of her cubicle to give him a hard hug.

 

"Face! My God, you're a sight for sore eyes! I knew it; I knew your deaths were staged!" She couldn't believe he was here. He looked just as handsome as ever, if a bit older and slightly fitter; the charm he radiated was just as strong as she remembered. The gray suit was just as undoubtedly Armani, the shoes expensive if well-worn leather. She was less surprised he'd found her in her new job; she'd been on TV enough times.

 

Face grinned and pulled her close. For a moment, he simply held her tight, and she reveled in the way he felt in her arms, the way she felt being held in his. It seemed too incredible that he was here.

 

"Beautiful and smart, now that's the Amy I remember. We thought you'd figure it out eventually. Sorry we couldn't give you any sort of confirmation – it was against the rules," he told her, stepping back. "But we're free and clear now. I came to see if you'd like to have dinner with me and Murdock. That is, if you're not busy."

 

She chuckled. "If I was, I'd make my apologies later. Oh my God, I can't believe you're still alive, and you're here!"

 

Face grinned. "So is that a yes, you'll have dinner, or are you going to be in shock the rest of the evening?" he asked. "Because if you are, I'd be happy to hold you until you're over your shock."

 

His words made Amy chuckle and lessened her shock. "Yes, I'll have dinner with you. Let me just close up here and I'll be ready."

 

He waited patiently as she turned off the computer and pulled her purse out of a drawer in the desk.

 

"I saw that story you did on that doctor who was selling drugs to kids. How does it feel to be the downfall of a highly respected professional?"

 

"Relieved, honestly. He was slime." Amy shook her head, remembering the investigative report she'd done. "Funny thing is I would have never uncovered the whole thing if I hadn't gone to ask him about things to look for when choosing a pediatrician for the series I was doing on medicine."

 

"I noticed you've been doing more TV reporting. Still like being a reporter?" he asked as he led the way towards the elevator.

 

She offered him a quick smile even as she marveled how easy it felt to be with him, as if it was only yesterday they'd last talked. "Most days, yes. Still with the team?"

 

Face chuckled. "We don't do missions together, but we have dinner together every other Sunday." He grinned. "We've been together so long, we're pretty much family."

 

"So why didn't you call me sooner if you'd seen me on TV? That story was a month ago."

 

"We figured you wouldn't trust a phone call," Face said. "Of the four of us, I'm the one with the most free time, believe it or not. Hannibal's been spending a lot of time with a lady of his and both Murdock and BA work days. I've been busy with trying to manage some of the team's investments, and this is the first afternoon I've had free."

 

"Understood." She offered him a smile as they boarded the elevator. "God, I can't believe you're here." She reached for his arm, needing to touch him to assure herself he was real.

 

He grinned and drew her hand to his lips, kissing the back of her palm as he held her gaze. Unable to help herself, she giggled at the predictable flirtation. The elevator paused to admit more passengers, causing it to be full. To Amy's surprise, he pulled her closer, letting her stand pressed against him.

 

Amy swallowed; suddenly hyperaware of his touch. She was honest enough with herself to know he'd always been attractive to her. All at once, she was aware that the suit Face wore couldn't quite conceal the fact that he was in better shape than she remembered, as if he'd had to work out more. She tried to ignore the sudden tingling in the pit of her stomach.

 

Out of long habit, Amy didn't try to continue talking. She knew there were too many ears for the kind of questions she wanted to ask him. For his part, he seemed to be content just to hold her as the elevator continued its descent to the ground floor. She felt oddly bereft when he finally released her.

 

"So what are the other guys up to?" she asked once they were clear of the elevator and heading through the lobby to the visitor parking lot.

 

"Murdock is working for a semi-private airfield, teaching flying lessons and helping with paperwork. BA bought an auto shop and went back to helping out at the community center. Hannibal gave up acting altogether. Claims he's earned his retirement."

 

"Somehow, I don't see that happening."

 

Face grinned. "Oh, he's enjoying it, trust me. He still likes to kick my ass just on principle."

 

Amy was not surprised. "Something tells me you'd miss it if he stopped."

 

"You think I enjoy getting woken up at oh-dark-thirty as if I was still in basic training?" Face asked dryly, but Amy heard the answer in his words. "I have reservations at Il Julio. Did you want to change for dinner? I don't mind driving."

 

She glanced down at the simple skirt and top she'd worn. "If we're going there, definitely. Good thing you showed up. I rode in with my friend Robyn, since my car's in the shop, but she left earlier. I was going to call a cab to get home."

 

"Well, then, perfect timing," Face said with a smile. "What's wrong with your car?"

 

"Just some regular maintenance, but I'm having them check the brakes, too, so it's taking longer." She grinned. "If I'd known BA had a garage, I'd have taken it to him instead. Maybe next time I will."

 

"I'm sure he'd be pleased by that," Face agreed.

 

In companionable silence, they made their way out to his 'vette. He opened the door for her, and then shut it after she was seated.

 

"Are you still living in that apartment in Los Feliz?" he asked as he started up the car and pulled out of the parking lot.

 

"No, I bought a condo when I got back from reporting in Europe two years ago. I was sick of paying more rent for a place I was barely living in." She gave him directions and settled in for the ride.

 

Once on the road, Amy said, "So tell me what happened, exactly, after the supposed execution."

 

Face shrugged. "The military caught us, and then offered us a deal: work for them and earn our pardons. We were snagged by an inside man." He snorted. "Figures the day we decide to bring in a guy –Frankie was his name -- to help us out, we got screwed. Bad part about that is that Frankie didn't know he was in over his head until we told him. By then, it was too late; the trap was sprung. Took us a few years to get the general to agree we'd done enough, but he was retiring, and he was under pressure to retire all his pet projects, too."

 

"General? You were working for a general?" At Face's nod, Amy shook her head. "Someone finally caught on to the fact that sending colonels to chase you wasn't going to cut it?"

 

He smiled, but the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "Apparently."

 

She digested this a moment. "But you're free now?"

 

Face grinned. "With a few perks, too. We negotiated a generous settlement, just a few things, like back pay and pensions. Nothing major, really." He sighed. "We lost the fight on promotions, though. Wouldn't give Hannibal his promotion to general, even though it was due him."

 

"Probably just as well," Amy noted, but she couldn't contain her happiness at the team's freedom. "Could you imagine him if he'd gotten it?"

 

"Well, if we hadn't been arrested and he'd stayed in the service, he might have been one anyway," Face told her. "Of course, that would have depended on whether or not he managed to not annoy anyone along the way, but-" He shrugged. "I have no doubt he'd have gotten it somehow."

 

"Now that's a thought," Amy commented with a smile. "I can't believe you're here." She shook her head. "I did try to find out what happened to you, you know. No one's been executed by firing squad in the state of California in decades, then I couldn't find records of your bodies ever being buried."

 

Face chuckled. "I wondered if you would. Were you in LA when the news hit the wire?"

 

"No, I'd just started working out of the Hong Kong bureau. Al Massey called me and let me know. I did what digging I could long-distance, but it wasn't much, and then the military press officer paid me a visit."

 

"What did he tell you?"

 

"Something I half-believed," she admitted with a rueful shake of her head. "I got used to getting a call from you or Hannibal about every three weeks, and when the phone calls stopped, I started really believing you were gone." She reached across to grasp Face's hand on the gearshift briefly. "I've missed you. Don't do that to me again – I don't think I could survive it."

 

Face chuckled dryly. "Trust me; I have no desire to repeat the experience."

 

"You mentioned that you don't do missions anymore. Why not?"

 

Face smiled as he drove through the evening traffic with easy competence. "We never intended to be a team this long," he told her gently. "We all had plans to live normal lives, and so that's what we're all trying to do."

 

Amy smiled. "So what are you doing?"

 

"Investing, learning computers, whatever I feel like really. If I'm careful, I can live off the settlement for quite a while. Of course, you know me, I'm trying to make it stretch farther. Right now, I've a real estate development company – we fix up houses and then sell them."

 

"That sounds interesting," Amy said, smiling. "How'd you get into it?"

 

Face grinned. "Hannibal suggested I stop house-sitting and buy my own house. Found a place that had managed to hold out against new development, but it needed work. We ended up doing it as a team project, but I really saw the potential for profit in it." He shrugged, but Amy could see the quiet pride in his accomplishment. "It's turned into a little enterprise."

 

"I can imagine," she remarked. "And I can see where you'd be good at it, too."

 

The conversation soon turned to other topics during the forty-five minute drive to Amy's condo. Once at her place, she showered quickly, then changed into attire more appropriate for one of the city's more formal restaurants before touching up her makeup. Face approved of her dress selection, whistling appreciatively. For a moment, she felt like she was going out on a date, then she reminded herself that reunions counted as special occasions.

 

"Beautiful," he proclaimed. "You're going to make Murdock very jealous of me, you know."

 

"Jealous? Why on earth would he be –" Confused, Amy took a deep breath, reminding herself that it had been a few years, after all, and she might not know Murdock as well as she thought. "Is that going to be a problem?"

 

Face looked at her, clearly not expecting that question. For a long moment, he said nothing as the air suddenly filled with electricity. His gaze was riveted on her face, then moved over her body slowly, as if he hadn't quite drunk in just how she looked. There was a tingling in the pit of her stomach and a jangling of nerves as she realized he was looking at her for the first time as a potential lover.

 

As if hypnotized, he stepped closer. He'd kissed her before, a long time ago, when they'd pretended to be husband and wife. She'd never forgotten how he could kiss with such passion if he didn't entirely mean it. Now she wondered what it would be like if he meant it. She knew if there was no A-Team, there was no reason to coerce her into anything, no reason to seduce her, no reason but his own desire. The thought gave her goose bumps.

 

His hands slipped up her arms, bringing her closer. His kiss was slow, thoughtful, as if he too remembered this wasn't the first time he'd touched her this way. The touch of his lips was a delicious sensation. Parting her lips, she raised herself to meet his kiss, and quivered at the sweetness of it.

 

Reluctantly, Face broke the kiss, ending the sensual haze. "No," he said after a long moment, and Amy nearly forgot there'd even been a question. "I don't think Murdock will be jealous that I'm walking in with you. I think he'll be jealous because I kissed you first." Wicked mischief gleamed in Face's eyes. "I'm equally sure there's something we can do to fix that."

 

"Oh?" Amy blinked. Face flirting with her was to be expected; the man flirted like he breathed. Yet his actions and his words caused a flutter of butterflies in her stomach. It had been years since she'd last spent any length of time with him, after all, and she grew nervous. It was one thing to assume he had ulterior motives; it was another to wonder what they signified.

 

Face just smiled. "I'll tell you after dinner." He changed the subject and guided her out of her condo. On the way, Face used his mobile phone to call Murdock and let him know they were on their way.

 

They arrived at the restaurant to find Murdock waiting for them. It was a bit of a surprise to see him dressed in a suit and tie, even though she knew the restaurant had a formal dress code.

 

Murdock looked at Amy. "Face was right -- you look beautiful." He hugged her, lingering a bit longer than was proper for just friends, before he drew back. For a moment, he looked like he was going to kiss her, and then just smiled and stepped back.

 

"You look great yourself," Amy replied as they were seated at the table.

 

"His fault," Murdock said, gesturing at Face as he smiled. "I'd be happy in jeans and a t-shirt."

 

"Somehow, I can see that," Amy said with a laugh as their server arrived to greet them and let them know about the specials. Amy noted she'd been given the menu without prices; now she knew something was really up. She wasn't all that hungry, suddenly too nervous to eat much, but she didn't want to let either man know she was feeling apprehensive.

 

After their server took their orders, Murdock started asking her questions about some of the stories she'd covered. To her surprise, she began to relax and enjoy herself. It had been a long time since she'd spent any time with either of them. The last time she'd had dinner with them, they'd been meeting to go over information they'd requested she obtain.

 

It was a heady feeling, to be the focus of attention by two very charming and handsome men, and Amy decided to simply go with the flow. She found herself sliding into the rhythm of their company as if the years of separation hadn't happened. Still, there was a new twist that kept her from completely relaxing. They flirted outrageously with her, competing with each other to see who could make her blush or laugh, and were both so over the top she had a hard time taking either of them seriously. Yet an undercurrent of desire hummed between the three of them, enough to make Amy wonder.

 

Near the end of dinner, after the bill had been paid and they were lingering over the last of the wine, Amy decided she'd had enough of wondering. "All right, you two, what's really going on? You've carefully avoided telling me something all night, and if I believed you meant even a quarter of the flirting you've been doing, then I know something's really up."

 

Face looked at Murdock. "You want to tell her? It's your idea."

 

Murdock smiled, but there was a challenge in his expression. "No, I think I'll let you take her home and explain. I have to meet Hannibal and drop off his stuff anyway. He'll wonder if I'm late."

 

"Then I'd rather not do it here." Turning to Amy, Face smiled. "Shall we go? I promise I'll answer your question in the car."

 

She stared at them a moment. Remembering that both men were capable of digging in and telling her anything but the whole truth, she reined in her impatience with a sigh and nodded agreement. "All right," she said, "but this better be good."

 

"Oh, I think you'll be surprised," Murdock promised her as he helped her out of her chair. He kept a hand on the small of her back as he guided her out of the restaurant while Face led the way back to the 'Vette. She was hyperaware of his touch, of his closeness, of his tall, lean body next to hers. For a moment, she wondered if the fact she hadn't been in a relationship in years was causing her to feel more attracted to Murdock than she should for an old friend. Then she glanced over at him and realized that wasn't entirely the case.

 

"Wait, before you get in," he cautioned her.

 

She stopped, one hand on the door of the car, the other on the seat, and looked at him quizzically.

 

Murdock smiled and moved so that he stood directly in front of her. "There's something I've been wondering for a long time," he said.

 

"Oh?"

 

"Yes," he agreed. "Whether or not you're as good of a kisser as Face says you are. After all, we pretended to be married once, but I never got to kiss you, not even then."

 

Then he leaned in and kissed her gently, coaxingly. Confusion reigned for a moment before she wondered if Murdock and Face had some weird bet going. It wasn't fair to not prove Face right, if that was the case. She'd never in her wildest dreams imagined Murdock would be kissing her. Yet, here he was, doing exactly that, and sending unexpected and equally confusing thrills through her in the process. Reluctantly, Murdock stepped back. Flashing an easy grin, he then helped her into the passenger seat of the car.

 

"Good night, Amy," he told her as he shut the door.

 

To Face, he said, "I'll meet you back at the house."

 

"I'll call you when I leave Amy's," Face promised as he started up the car.

 

Caught in a riot of emotions, Amy said nothing for the length of time it took Face to leave the restaurant's parking lot and pull out onto the street. Nothing made sense, not the way she'd reacted to Murdock's kiss, not the way both men had flirted with her, not the undercurrent of need she still sensed from Face. There was only one explanation that made any sense.

 

"What's going on?" Amy asked suspiciously as Face headed down the street. "What do you need me for so badly you're willing to seduce me to do it?"

 

"Really, Amy, who do you think we are?" Face said, sounding annoyed. "We've never had to resort to such tactics, not with you. All we ever had to do was ask, and you'd be there to help."

 

"Then I'm confused," she admitted. "It's been three years since I even talked to you, and that was a rather quick phone call, as I recall. I've always seen you as a friend, but you have to admit, this is out of the blue, even for you. You've never kissed me except when we were pretending I was your girlfriend. Murdock – I'd never thought in a million years he'd kiss me. Do you just have some weird bet going on?"

 

"Not a bet, but it is Murdock's idea," Face said as he navigated the streets. "He got to thinking about you, started talking to me, and we both realized we'd missed you…a lot."

 

Amy raised an eyebrow. "All right, I'll buy that, but… you usually save Il Julio for very special occasions – the last time we went there it was for Hannibal's birthday. You both kissed me, without the reason of some mission as justification. You both flirted with me throughout dinner, in a way that if I got freaked out you could just claim you were teasing me. I still feel like I'm missing something, but I get the definite impression you guys want a bit more than just 'hey, let's hang out'."

 

Face quickly pulled over to the side of the road. Cars whizzed by as he put the car in park and set the parking brake. Looking directly at her, he answered, "Yes. We'd like to date you, if you'll have us."

 

Amy was glad he'd pulled over; if he'd said that while the car was still in motion, she'd probably have caused an accident. Not even in her wildest dreams had that concept ever entered her head. Be Face's girlfriend for one night that wasn't pretend? Sure. Find out if Murdock ever stopped practicing his flirting on her and mean it? Sure. Date both of them?

 

"Are you crazy?" she burst out, staring at him.

 

He didn't quite smile, and there was a hint of unease in the way his left hand tightened momentarily on the steering wheel. "No, but Murdock is. Was. May yet still be." Face, normally so unflappable, tried to smile again and had to swallow hard instead. His nervousness startled Amy and betrayed that he wasn't nearly as calm as he wanted to be about this. That alone told her this was important.

 

"Face?" Amy asked softly. "Are you okay with this?"

 

"Asking you to date us is his idea." Face didn't quite shrug so much as move his shoulders restlessly. "And the more he talked about it, the more I wanted it as well." He shook his head ruefully. "We've missed you. No one we've met since has been you."

 

She continued to stare at him, not quite sure how to deal with what he'd just said. After a minute, she said slowly, "I don't know whether to be flattered or scared that you both missed me enough to decide you wanted to date me. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact you haven't been dead, and then you throw me this curveball and expect me to throw it back like you've never been gone."

 

"I'm sorry. We got a little used to living life as if tomorrow wasn't going to be around. I don't want you to be scared, either; I know this is a lot to take in all at once." He chuckled dryly. "We're rushing you, aren't we?"

 

Amy sighed. "I know you, I know you tend to move quickly when you've wanted someone or something, and…" She took a deep breath. "For all the times I heard Murdock debate whether or not to do something, once he decided to, there was no stopping him either. Now…I feel like I'm being offered something I've never even considered possible, and I'm scared that I'll lose you as friends."

 

"There aren't many women I'd make this offer to," Face said quietly. "It's not my standard operating procedure, not by far. It may have been Murdock's idea to begin with, but he's right – you're the only woman we know we'd even consider dating together. You're not only sexy and beautiful inside and out, but you know who we are – not the masks we put on for most people. I can count on one hand the number of people other than BA and Hannibal who know us that well.

 

"If you say no, Amy, we aren't going to walk away – we'll take your friendship if that's all you can and want to give."

 

Amy's eyes widened at this information. "Give me a minute or two to think, okay?'

 

"Of course," he said as he pulled the car back onto the road, expertly handling it through the late evening traffic.

 

She'd wanted him once, she remembered, had been nearly giddy the first time she'd played his wife. Murdock had flirted with her, too, but he always treated it as if he was simply practicing his skill, and so she'd learned not to take him seriously. Had she simply been blind? Or were they so good at hiding their true feelings that she'd simply been misled to believe what they'd wanted her to believe? Or was their desire for her something more recent, something they hadn't themselves realized until she was unavailable? The onset of their desire didn't really matter, she realized; what mattered more was that it was now a reality.

 

Could she do this? Clearly, if they were suggesting she date both of them, then it followed that they'd already discussed it between them. They were both older than her; it followed that they probably had prior experience doing this as well. She'd never attempted anything like this, but they'd proven to her that they wouldn't deliberately do anything to hurt her. All of her experiences with them had always involved some sort of insanity: improvised weapons, cars flying through the air, plans that worked but not as originally intended. Why should dating them be any different?

 

"Can we take it a bit slow? I've never done anything this crazy before, and –" She took a deep breath and exhaled it, feeling butterflies in her stomach. "Just thinking about it makes me nervous and excited and —" She wasn't inexperienced; she considered herself to be very sexually knowledgeable. She could feel the blush starting to creep up her neck and had to take another deep breath. "I can't believe the things my mind is coming up with right now."

 

Face chuckled. "Thoroughly scandalous, isn't it?' he teased her, taking his hand off the gearshift momentarily to take her hand and squeeze it gently, reassuringly.

 

She had to laugh. "This is surreal, you know that? Never in a million years would I have dreamed we'd even be having this conversation."

 

Face grinned. "Well, it's not like we could have had it even three years ago. Hannibal would have had my – well, let's just say he'd had a fit if you'd been my lover then," he pointed out reasonably. "It was bad enough that he sometimes thought I flirted with you too much.

 

"We didn't get our pardons until last spring. It took us a year to get to a point where we felt we could even go and contact the people who knew us before we made our deal with the general." He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. "We were very scary people after all the missions he sent us on. You wouldn't have liked to see me then, and Murdock wasn't in much better shape."

 

Hearing the note of sad knowledge in his voice, Amy reached out to clasp his hand.

 

"Can you tell me what kind of missions you were sent on?"

 

"The kind where if you're caught, they'll deny they even knew you." Face sighed. "The kind we were all trained for, frankly, and did in 'Nam. I…I'd had hopes we wouldn't do those kinds of things again, but if we didn't, then they'd make sure that we were really dead."

 

"I'm sorry you had to go through all that," she said quietly. "But if you think dating me is going to make it all better—"

 

"I know it won't," Face said roughly. "I've tried that enough times with other people to know it doesn't work. I just – all those years ago, when you were pretending to be my girl, I sometimes wished it wasn't pretend, okay? Murdock's had a crush on you for years. Neither of us knew where you were until we saw you reporting on that doctor – we figured you'd left LA and stayed gone."

 

"But –" Amy knew the team was capable of finding people who'd vanished; the excuse sounded lame. "Face, I remember that for other things you've wanted, you've let very few things stand in the way of you getting it. Why did you let a month go by?"

 

Face glanced at her as they pulled to a stop at a stoplight. "For one thing, we had to be sure you weren't seeing anyone else. For another, Murdock had to convince me you weren't going to freak out at the suggestion," he told her as the light changed and he accelerated through the light. "It took a while. We had to figure out if we were both insane for wanting you in the first place. Then we argued over why we shouldn't just pursue you separately and let you choose who you wanted more. We decided it was going to be too difficult for us to not trip over each other if we went that route. He figures that if anyone has a choice in this matter, it's you. Like I said, we'll take your friendship, Amy, but we'd like a bit more than that, this time around. And yes, we'll go as slow as you like." He flashed a smile. "But I'll warn you now, neither of us is really good at waiting."

 

"I remember," Amy said, chuckling. She took a deep breath, hating the way her nerves weren't yet settled. "But I don't want either of you rushing me into not thinking about this."

 

"Afraid we're going to con you into it?" Face asked seriously as he pulled into her condo's parking lot, parking in a visitor's space. He turned off the engine and looked at her, reading her apprehension. "You're not just anyone, Amy. If you were, we wouldn't be discussing this – we'd already be having sex. I have more respect for you than that, and so does Murdock."

 

Some of Amy's anxiety vanished in the wake of his words. She knew all too well he was a master of them, yet something in the way he spoke told her he was telling the truth.

 

"I'm beginning to wonder if I'm crazy for agreeing to this." She took a deep breath and let it out. "I might regret this later, but yes, I'll date both you and Murdock."

 

He smiled and got out of the car and opened her door, helping her out.

 

"You're not crazy," he assured her. "And thank you for saying yes," he said sincerely a heartbeat before he kissed her. It was sweet kiss, full of promises and as-yet-unsatisfied yearning. He stepped back almost reluctantly. "Do you want me to walk you to your door?"

 

Amy smiled. "I'd like that," she agreed, and so he did. The role of perfect gentleman came easily to him, and she felt her heart trip with the knowledge that he was actually closer to a rogue than a gentleman.

 

He kissed her one more time after she'd opened her door, then deliberately stepped back, pulling out a business card from his suit pocket as he did so. She read desire in his eyes, and his voice was husky with promise as he said with what she was sure was deliberate formality, "Thank you for a wonderful evening. My numbers are on the card. Call me soon." He handed her the card and, dropping the formal air, looked over her one more time, as if to memorize her. She took the card as she felt the heat in his gaze.

 

He smiled. "Sleep well, Amy." He then executed a perfect pivot and headed down the hall towards the elevator.

 

She watched him go and admired the way he looked from the rear, then caught herself and giggled. She forced herself to shut the door and took a deep breath as she leaned against the door.

 

One thing was sure, she decided, she couldn't say her life wasn't going to be interesting.

 

***

 

"So, who are the flowers from?"

 

Amy looked up from the file folder she was reading and saw a willowy but curvaceous black woman standing at her desk, admiring the array of tulips and roses in a green vase. "Oh, hi, Robyn. They're from some old friends of mine."

 

Robyn looked at her disbelievingly. "What kind of old friends? Are they handsome? Come on, spill. You know you can tell me anything."

 

Amy smiled at the other woman's enthusiasm. "I've known them for several years now, and yes, they are very handsome, very charming, and very determined. I haven't seen them for a while, and they surprised me with dinner last night."

 

"And they sent you flowers the next day? Do they have brothers?" Robyn said enviously.

 

Chuckling, Amy said, "Not that I know of," she admitted. "And the flowers are a thank you for not getting mad that they didn't stay in touch."

 

"So why did you lose touch? I mean, if I knew a couple of guys like that, I'd be hanging on for dear life!"

 

"They were doing some super-secret stuff for the Army, and weren't allowed to let anyone know where they were."

 

Robyn's eyes widened. "So how do they look in uniform? Have you seen them?"

 

"They look great," Amy enthused, knowing that her friend liked men in uniform. "I don't have any pictures with me right now, but they were both officers." She chuckled softly. "And gentlemen when it suits them to be."

 

Robyn pressed a hand to her heart. "I'm so jealous. How'd you meet them?"

 

Amy smiled. "I interviewed them for a story on Vietnam veterans," she hedged. "We became friends."

 

"And you haven't had the slightest, teeny little interest in either of them?" Robyn wondered.

 

Remembering the way they'd kissed her the night before, Amy felt the blush start. "Well, of course, I'm not dead," she shot back, suddenly uncomfortable with the secret she was keeping. "But I didn't think they were interested in me that way."

 

Robyn nodded knowingly. "I'd say the flowers are a huge tip-off that they are. My ex-boyfriend and I were friends for six years before we got together; we lasted another four years before we figured out we weren't really right for each other. Friends turning into lovers can happen, and if my experience is anything to go by, it certainly makes the sex a lot more fun, so I'd say go for it if you have the chance. So, are you going to call them back and set up a date?"

 

"Robyn!"

 

"What? If I had two guys interested in me, I'd be jumping all over the chance. Hell, at this point, I'd take just one." She rolled her eyes. "My love life sucks ass. Besides, no one says you can't pick who you like better and just date him."

 

"True," Amy conceded. "I should at least call and thank them for the flowers."

 

"You do that," Robyn said encouragingly. "Let me know how it goes, okay?"

 

"I will," Amy promised her friend.

 

After Robyn had departed, Amy looked at the flowers and took a deep breath before fishing Face's business card out of her purse. Remembering that Face tended to be more available on his mobile phone, she tried that number first.

 

"Hello?" Face greeted. In the background, she could hear the distinct sounds of traffic and wind; it sounded like she'd caught him on the freeway.

 

"Thanks for the flowers. They're very lovely."

 

She could almost see his grin. "You're welcome. The tulips were Murdock's idea."

 

She chuckled. "Somehow, I can see that. Tell him thanks for me, will you?"

 

"Of course. I'm glad you called, Amy – I was going to see if you wanted to join us for a movie Saturday. I'll warn you now; it's supposed to be something one of Hannibal's actor friends is in."

 

"Oh, no," Amy groaned, remembering other movies. "I hope it's nothing like Terror of the Basilisk."

 

Face laughed. "Have no idea," he said cheerfully, "but we can hope. If nothing else, we can try to convince him to see something you want."

 

The hopeful note in his voice made Amy chuckle again.

 

"Will you come? I know Hannibal would love to see you, and so will BA."

 

"Well, if only to rescue you from the D-movie of the week," Amy teased. "Where and when?"

 

"The three-thirty show at the Grand Cinema," he told her. "Do you want me or Murdock to pick you up?"

 

"No, I'll just meet you there," she told him. "I have some errands to run in that neighborhood anyway."

 

"All right," he conceded. "We'll see you then. Enjoy the rest of your day, Amy." His voice made the words nearly a caress and she shivered.

 

"You, too, Face," she managed, and hung up the phone.

 

*****

 

"Why is it that I only see really bad movies with you guys when Hannibal picks the movie?" Amy complained as she stepped out of the theatre and out onto the street. She blinked as the sunlight hit her face and the guys surrounded her. Still, she couldn't help the grin that tugged at her face; she was glad to have spent a lazy Saturday afternoon this way. The theatre had been mostly empty, despite the first-run showing. In their usual fashion, the guys had taken turns offering low-voiced commentary on the movie. For a moment, Amy could almost believe the years of separation hadn't ever happened. They'd gotten together to see movies like this before, snatching moments of normality out of a life lived on the run.

 

"It wasn't that bad," Hannibal countered.

 

"Yes, it was," BA said. "You know it's bad when the crazy fool's ideas for how it should have gone make sense."

 

"Hey!" Murdock protested. "I'm not crazy. I have the letter to prove it."

 

Amy chuckled. It seemed so natural to slip her arm around Murdock and hug him briefly, yet she found herself wishing for a bit more contact. Since she'd shown up, neither he nor Face had touched her in any way that wasn't simply that of a close friend, and the difference was driving her crazy. She shoved her desire down with a firm hand and focused on what she wanted to say.

 

"I believe you," she said solemnly. "But I don't think casting Wiley E. Coyote could have improved that movie."

 

"She's right, Hannibal," Face agreed. "Are you sure your friend was even in that movie?"

 

Hannibal shook his head. "Must've been something they left on the cutting room floor."

 

The team groaned at the predictable response. "At least it wasn't dubbed like the last one," Hannibal offered.

 

"Might have improved it," Murdock said brightly.

 

"Amy, are you joining us for dinner?" Hannibal asked, changing the subject.

 

Amy looked surprised at the question, and then she realized he was giving her the opportunity to refuse. Something told her Face and Murdock hadn't said anything to their former commander about the offer they'd made her. They'd sat next to her in the theatre, but hadn't done anything that might have been construed as flirting. She breathed a silent sigh of relief. She wasn't sure what Hannibal would think, but suspected she'd be in for a lecture for agreeing to the offer regardless.

 

She smiled. "I'd love to join you for dinner. Did you want me to follow you or—"

 

"Don't be silly," Hannibal told her with finality. "There's enough room in the van."

 

She followed them down to the parking garage, expecting to see the familiar black-with-red-pinstripe van. When she was ushered into a newer, silver-painted van, she said, "Um, guys? What happened to the old van?"

 

"It got blown up," BA told her.

 

"Too many people know to look for it if they want the A-Team," Hannibal added. "We decided we didn't need to borrow trouble if we wanted to live normal lives."

 

"Makes sense," Amy remarked after a moment. "So how come you kept the 'vette, Face?"

 

He looked appalled at the suggestion. "Give up my 'Vette? When BA's worked so hard on it?"

 

BA snorted. "You didn't have a problem blowing up my van," he growled.

 

"Come on, BA, the transmission was so shot in that van, you were holding it together on a wing and prayer," Face countered.

 

"It was my van!"

 

"Guys," Hannibal said warningly. "We've been over this. So, Amy, are you still driving that convertible Face helped you buy?"

 

She smiled. "No, I sold it when I realized I was spending more time overseas than here. Finally got around to buying another car a couple months ago, but I'm thinking about getting something else."

 

"Oh, what did you get?" BA asked.

 

Amy grinned. "A Sunbird convertible; it's not anything really fancy."

 

"Nice car," BA said, "but it has a recall on it. Did you get it fixed?"

 

"You sold that little Triumph?" Face asked incredulously before Amy could answer. "I worked so hard on that deal!"

 

"Sorry," Amy apologized, "but I really wasn't driving it. What recall? I just got it out of the shop."

 

"You bring it to a dealer?"

 

"No, the garage is one of the best in the city," Amy said, adding hastily, "I thought."

 

"Bring it to my garage and I'll take care of it," BA told her.

 

"I'll do that," Amy promised.

 

That led into a discussion about cars that filled the twenty minute ride to the restaurant. The restaurant itself turned out to be the same place where Amy had often met the team, though it had changed names and cuisines since the last time they'd been there and now featured a fairly unassuming, if typically West Coast-inspired, menu.

 

Amy ended up seated between Face and Murdock, with BA and Hannibal on the other side of the table She'd half-expected either Face or Murdock to flirt with her throughout dinner. Somehow, she was disappointed when they didn't and continued to treat her as a friend. The closest contact was in the press of their legs against hers, easily excused as accidental to the width of the bench seat.

 

She managed to hide her disappointment in getting reacquainted with Hannibal and BA, who were as delighted to see her again as she was them. By the time they brought her back to the parking garage where she'd left her car, she'd convinced herself that Face and Murdock had clearly reconsidered their offer, or worse.

 

Then Face volunteered to walk her to her car, since she'd parked on a level inaccessible to vans. Murdock promptly claimed to need to walk Billy, and then circled back around so that they both ended up walking her to her car.

 

"Thanks for inviting me along," Amy told them as she stood outside her car.

 

"You're welcome," Murdock said promptly. "But in case you were wondering-" He leaned in and kissed her briefly. "We didn't forget you said yes."

 

Face came up behind her and hugged her gently. "We just figured you might want to enjoy the day without that pressure." He laid a kiss on her cheek, which, since she'd turned her head to look at him, landed on her lips instead.

 

He smiled at the accidental switch, but kept his kiss as chaste as Murdock had, which only made her long for more even as she was glad they hadn't pushed. Releasing her, he stepped back. "Did you want to come to dinner tomorrow at our house?"

 

Regretfully, Amy shook her head. "Sorry, but I promised a friend I'd help paint her living room."

 

"Another time, then."

 

She nodded and got into her car. "I'll call you," she promised as she started up the car. Face moved out of the way to stand next to Murdock. She waved goodbye to them, then carefully backed out and drove away.

 

Both men looked at each other for a moment before Murdock asked, "If I start running now, do you think I'll catch her?"

 

"Not today," Face said regretfully.

 

"I'm really, really fast," Murdock pleaded.

 

Face shook his head. "Come on; let's get back to the van before Hannibal wonders where we are."

 

"Or what we're doing?" Murdock returned with a mischievous grin. He pulled Face into a thoroughly scandalous kiss before gently turning him towards the elevator.

 

Face blew out a breath, shaking his head slightly. His desire for the other man still had the power to scare him senseless sometimes. What made it worse was that he knew Murdock had aroused him deliberately. Part of it was Murdock's desire for Amy spilling over into the lover he could touch, which Face didn't mind receiving. Part of it was simply Murdock wanted to see if he could recover before they saw Hannibal. He took another breath, ignoring his lover's amusement.

 

"Did you tell Amy about us?" Murdock wondered as Face tried to find his composure.

 

"Not yet," Face said, earning a glare. "What?"

 

Murdock didn't say anything for a moment. Then he said, "I love you, Face, but sometimes…sometimes the fact you got used to denying we have a relationship really gets to me." He spoke with the same resignation as someone late for an appointment and stuck at a railroad crossing with a long train just beginning to pass by.

 

For a moment, Face could only stare at his lover, suddenly aware he'd miscalculated in not disclosing everything all at once. A surge of resentment rose in him – did Murdock really expect him to abandon years of discretion? – but he forced it down, aware that his lover was far more demonstrative than he was, that part of the motivation behind the kiss was to prove (yet again) that the reason for discretion didn't matter anymore.

 

"I didn't want to shock her," he said, a heartbeat late.

 

"I know," Murdock said in the same resigned tone. "Next time we see her, I'll tell her. Save you the trouble." He walked a short distance away.

 

Whistling, he called, "Billy! Come here, boy, time to go!" He waited a beat then mimed stopping a dog from slobbering all over him while trying to get a leash on his pet.

 

Then he looked over at Face. "Well?" he asked expectantly, his right hand poised as if he'd taken hold of Billy's leash.

 

Face bit back the apology he knew he'd spoken far too many times before. The argument was too old to rehash now, too much a part of who they were, for any apologies or discussion to have value. With a sigh, he nodded and headed towards Murdock.

 

*****

 

One week later

 

Amy dialed the number listed as Face's home number with nervous fingers. It rang three times before it was picked up.

 

"Bert and Ernie's Playhouse, how can I help you?" Murdock answered.

 

"Hi, Murdock, it's Amy," she greeted. "How are you?"

 

"Better since you're on the line," he said seriously. "We were beginning to wonder if you'd decided you hated us."

 

"I don't hate you," Amy said, shocked at the thought. "I got busy with work. Plus I'm, well, a little scared and nervous. Last time two guys asked me out, it was for senior prom, and I didn't like one of them as much as the other."

 

Murdock chuckled. "It's okay, querida. If you weren't a little afraid, I'd worry. It's normal to be apprehensive of a new situation. So what can I do for you?"

 

"I thought this was Face's home number – he wasn't answering his mobile."

 

"I live here, too," Murdock told her gently. "Didn't he tell you? He bought a big old house north of the city. You should come see it – we spent six months renovating it as a team project. Just finished it in December, actually." He sounded proud of the effort.

 

"He did mention something about that," Amy said, nodding, forgetting that Murdock couldn't see her. "So how come he's not answering his phone?"

 

"He's out with a realtor looking at some property he's thinking of buying. He probably left his phone in the car; he tends to do that when he's focused on a deal."

 

"Oh. So you won't feel like my second choice if I asked you if you were interested in doing anything with me?"

 

He laughed. "No, I was planning on stopping by and seeing you anyway. Want to go flying with me?"

 

"As long as no one is shooting us, the plane doesn't have any problems, and there are no parachutes involved, sure."

 

"Are you implying that I'd ever fly a plane that isn't safe?" Indignation laced his voice.

 

"And how many times have I flown with you where that was the case, hmm?" Amy asked dryly.

 

"Right, we'll pretend your experience with Howlin' Mad Air has been entirely blissful, shall we?" he said quickly.

 

She chuckled. "Shall I meet you at the airport?"

 

"No, let me pick you up. We'll fly out of the airfield I'm working at, and it's a little hard to find if you don't know where you're going. Face told me how to get to your place, so I'll see you in an hour, okay?"

 

"See you then," Amy agreed.

 

Murdock was prompt, arriving in a battered, burgundy-and-primer-colored sedan that bore no hint of who had manufactured it or what model it was. Red reflective tape covered one rear taillight; the rear license plate had been hung with wire. It was the first time Amy had seen Murdock's car, and seeing it, she knew she'd never be able to not spot it in any parking lot.

 

"So how many times has Face offered to buy you something different?" Amy asked dryly as she stepped up to the car.

 

Murdock shot her a quick grin as he met her halfway.  "About a million times. But it makes BA happy to work on it."

 

Amy smiled. "You wouldn't be deliberately making things wrong so he can fix it, would you?"

 

"Now, why would I do a crazy thing like that?" he asked innocently. "BA's got his hands full as it is, running that garage, taking care of his mama and those kids at the community center."

 

Amy crossed her arms as she shook her head. "Sometimes I wonder how you two stay friends. Anyone listening to you and him argue would wonder if you are friends."

 

"We're blood brothers," Murdock said solemnly, as if that explained everything. Then he grinned. "He'd think I was sick if I didn't bug him, you know. Before we go, may I do one thing?"

 

"What's that?"

 

He looked at her, considering. "May I kiss you?

 

For a moment, Amy hesitated. Now that choice was in her hands, she wasn't entirely sure she should say yes. Yet the way he looked at her, with hope and desire and understanding all mixed in, made her want not to refuse. It was only a kiss. He'd kissed her before, when she'd thought it was a bet, and then more chastely a week ago. She'd liked his kisses then, hadn't she? One kiss didn't automatically mean they'd have sex. Suddenly nervous, she swallowed hard. "Yes."

 

He smiled gratefully before he stepped closer and placed his lips on hers.

 

He kissed her with such welcoming tenderness, Amy found herself wondering why she'd been nervous about it. Desire smoldered into flame, slow and all the more devastating because she hadn't known he could incite that fire in her. Nor had she known she would, in the space of a heartbeat, crave even more of that heat. The depth of it left her feeling stunned, and more than a little aware that while she'd agreed to date him and Face, she hadn't expected this.

 

Slowly, reluctantly, Murdock pulled back. "Oh, Amy, I want you so much." Lust glittered in his eyes, and she watched him fight for control, thrilling her with newfound knowledge. "Go ahead, get in the car. I-I'll get us going in a minute." He gave her a crooked smile. "Damned dog, he runs off when you're not looking. Billy! Come back here!"

 

Amy hid a smile as she climbed into the passenger seat of the car, which had a surprisingly luxurious interior, despite the duct tape holding the glove compartment shut. Murdock made a show of shooing his invisible dog into the back seat before sliding into the driver's seat.

 

The airfield turned out to be a semi-private field in the next county, tucked away from civilization.

 

They parked in front of a large building which turned out to be the administrative offices and the control tower for the airfield. Amy could see a sign for a small café housed in the same building. Murdock pulled out a small black bag from the back seat of his car before they headed up a short flight of stairs to the control room.

 

A heavy-set woman with graying hair and glasses manned the counter. Amy's quick glance saw that the counter held a large ledger, an assortment of pens and flyers for various workshops and lessons. A calendar hung on the far wall; one side of the counter was occupied by communication equipment, from which Amy could hear bursts of conversation that sounded like they were from pilots already in the air; a young Indian man appeared to be in charge of the radio.

 

The Indian man was the first to spy Murdock, but as he was in the midst of a radio call, only grinned when he saw Murdock walk in with his arm around Amy.

 

"That's Ravi. He does all the tower communications," Murdock told her in an undertone as they approached the counter. The woman saw them approach and her eyes widened as they took in Murdock and Amy.

 

"Murdock, you should have told me you were bringing a special friend," the woman remarked with a grin. She extended her hand to Amy. "I'm Judy Lammas. My brother owns this place, but I run everything. You're on Channel 11 news, aren't you?"

 

Amy smothered a chuckle at the woman's statement and shook hands. "Yes, I'm Amy Allen. I do the '11 At Your Side' reports."

 

"Knew you looked familiar. Ever flown with Murdock before?"

 

Amy smiled. "A few times," she admitted. "Never here, though."

 

Judy nodded acknowledgement of that; she looked as though she would have warned Amy if she'd said otherwise. "Murdock, the Cherokee's rented. Did you want a 172 or the 182?"

 

"The 182, please. I'm in the 172s all week."

 

Judy reached into a cabinet full of keys and pulled out a color-coded key ring. "The 182's right up front – Mike hasn't gotten it parked in the hanger yet, but the tank's full, so you're in luck. You only have an hour, though – it's rented after that."

 

Murdock signed the ledger quickly. "An hour's fine, Judy."

 

Judy grinned and handed over the key ring. "Have fun, you two."

 

"Come on, this way," Murdock told Amy, leading her out the door at one end of the control room. They descended the stairs to a small grassy area that separated the tarmac from the building.

 

To Amy, one small plane looked pretty much like another, but Murdock clearly knew which plane was what. He led her to a plane parked about a hundred yards in front of the building.

 

"Hold on to this a sec, will you?"

 

Not waiting for her assent, he handed the bag he'd been carrying over to her and unlocked the door of the plane. Muttering to himself, he leaned into the plane and emerged a minute later with a clipboard and a pen, which he then handed to Amy.

 

She stared at the paper clipped to the clipboard. "Pre-flight checklist?" she asked. "You actually have a list?"

 

Murdock chuckled. "Yes, but I figured this time you might want to help me go through it, since every other time you've flown with me you haven't seen one."

 

"Are you patronizing me?" Amy asked suspiciously.

 

He had the grace to look sheepish. "If it makes you feel better. Besides, it goes faster with two people. Just read off what's on the list, and don't worry if none of it makes any sense to you."

 

Amy looked at him skeptically, but decided to indulge him. "All right. Before I do that, what's in this bag?"

 

"Headsets. One for you, one for me. It also has my charts and a few other things that as the pilot I need."

 

"Okay," she said, nodding as she remembered using a headset in other planes he'd flown. Can I set the bag down somewhere?"

 

"Just stick it on the passenger seat for now," Murdock told her, and she followed his direction.

 

By the time they taxied down the runway and were in the air, Amy did feel much better about flying with Murdock since she'd seen how thoroughly he checked the plane. She'd never seen him do that before, which wasn't surprising since she'd often been assigned to help run a scam or just hang back, out of harm's way, when she'd been a part of the team and therefore had missed out on some of the stuff for which Murdock had been responsible.

 

Flying in that plane with Murdock turned out to be an intimate experience, much more than she'd anticipated. Always before, they'd needed a plane big enough to move the entire team, and so she'd never flown in something this small. It felt like there wasn't much between her and the sky, and watching Murdock, she saw how at home he was here.

 

"You ever wish you could stay up here?" Amy asked after they'd been in the air several minutes.

 

Murdock grinned. "Sometimes," he agreed. "I can't remember -- do you get dizzy easily?"

 

"No, why?"

 

"Close your eyes."

 

"Why?"

 

"Just trust me, okay? I want to try something."

 

Amy looked at him, not sure what he planned to do, but willing to try anything. She closed her eyes. A moment later, she felt the microphone part of her headset being moved before his lips press against hers in a tender, but shockingly erotic, kiss.

 

Her eyes flew open and she opened her eyes to find him leaned over her as far as he could. One of his hands rested on her shoulder. Fear and desire shot through her, twin arrows of emotion, and she had to strain to keep her voice calm. "If this plane's not on autopilot, I'd recommend you return your attention to flying."

 

He grinned. "It'll be fine for a minute."

 

"Murdock," Amy said warningly. "If you want me to kiss you again sometime in the next hour, I'd suggest you go back to being a pilot."

 

"I'd rather put my hands on you," he complained, but compiled.

 

"Maybe later," Amy teased. Feeling brave, she put her hand on his thigh. "After we land."

 

He glanced down at her hand, took a shuddering breath, and then looked at her. "Don't tempt me, Amy. I don't have very good control of myself some days, and I've had a lot of time to think about how much I want you. That kiss earlier -- I'd be lying if I didn't say I had half a mind to introduce you to the mile-high club."

 

She met his gaze and read the desire there. She felt a lurch of excitement within her at the knowledge her touch could inflame him so. Feeling dangerous, she moved her hand closer to the inside of his thigh.

 

He caught her hand. "I thought you wanted to go slow?" he reminded her. "Or was that just Face?"

 

Suddenly ashamed of her boldness, Amy jerked her hand back. "I did – I mean, I do want to go slow, even if the way you kiss me just makes me want more, and never in a million years did I expect to feel that way about you. I just—God, Murdock, I never took you seriously when you flirted with me!"

 

He grinned. "You weren't supposed to, back then. Don't beat yourself up over it. Besides, I was out of my mind; I didn't take myself seriously." He shrugged.

 

More seriously, he said, "There's one thing you should know, though."

 

"Oh, what's that?"

 

Murdock was quiet as he stared out the windshield at the clouds as the minutes dragged on. Finally, he said, "I'm in love with Face and have been for years."

 

For a moment, Amy froze. Scattered pieces of memories suddenly took on a new slant. A thousand nosy questions rose to mind, but Amy shoved them aside for the one she really wanted answered immediately. "Are you involved with each other now?"

 

"Yes."

 

Amy's eyes widened at that revelation. Implications spun out, filling her head and heart with possibilities she hadn't previously considered. It was one thing to say yes to date two friends, but two friends she hadn't known were involved with each other changed matters. If she backed out now because she couldn't handle their relationship, would they still be friends? Fear found a home in the pit of her stomach. She'd just found them again; she wasn't sure she could stand losing them for a second time. Not when she knew she was more attracted to Murdock than she'd anticipated being.

 

"No wonder you decided to jointly pursue me," she remarked finally.

 

"Even if we weren't lovers, we'd still want to see you," Murdock told her. "Face and I talked a lot about that; we had to decide how we were going to do this. I promised him I wouldn't contact you until he'd made up his mind, one way or the other." He chuckled dryly. "Then I lost the coin toss on who was going to see you first and he took away my double-headed coin. Besides, he's better at words than me."

 

Some of Amy's tension eased at his words. She laughed as Murdock's smile widened. "So you really didn't have to drop off stuff to Hannibal that night at the restaurant. You wanted to make him ask me?"

 

Murdock shot her a grin. "No, I really had to drop off that stuff."

 

"Does Hannibal know about you and Face?"

 

"He used to worry that someone would find out and we'd be in worse trouble," Murdock said quietly. "Made us swear to be discreet."

 

"So how long have you been together?"

 

"Six months, this time. It's been more – how I can I put this – scattered before that."

 

"Scattered because you had to be discreet?"

 

Murdock nodded.

 

"But if you guys haven't been a team for a year, and you've been together for the last half of that, why didn't Face say anything to me?"

 

"Well, for one thing, Face tends to think we still have to be discreet." Murdock blew out a breath. "Annoys the hell of out of me more than it should, sometimes, even when I know he's doing it partly out of habit and partly to protect us both. The second reason is because he didn't want to scare you off," Murdock said gently. "Would you have believed him, given how he's made nearly a career out of being a playboy? Come on, Amy, from what he told me, you were pretty shocked as it was."

 

Reluctantly, Amy chuckled. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not shocked about that anymore." She paused as a thought occurred to her. "But if you're involved with each other, why do you want me? Is it because you want a baby?"

 

"Is there some reason you can't believe we'd just want you because we find you attractive?" Murdock countered, annoyed.

 

"Come on, Murdock. Even for you two, this is as left field as it can get. Most relationships I know don't invite other people into them."

 

"Most relationships aren't the one I have with Face," Murdock replied.

 

"Then why?" Amy was confused.

 

Murdock looked at her. "How about every time I saw you kiss Face, back when you were helping him pull his cons, I kept wishing I had that pleasure? When I figured out you were back in LA, I knew I had a second chance to make that wish into a reality."

 

"That's all?" Amy couldn't believe it was that simple.

 

He shrugged. "Well, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to wanting kids, but that's not the reason I want to be with you."

 

Amy's head was spinning. "But you had to convince Face-"

 

"It didn't take all that much, querida," Murdock assured her. "He's always been interested in you; it simply wasn't something that we could deal with at the time. We talked more about whether or not our relationship could handle another person in it. Especially if that person was you – it's a lot harder to kiss a friend than it is a stranger."

 

She chuckled softly at that truth. "I'm sure it'll get easier with practice," she surprised herself by saying.

 

He grinned. "Want to try some more?" He started to lean over.

 

"Murdock –" Amy began warningly, even as a frisson of desire shot through her at the thought.

 

He laughed. "Don't worry, querida, I've got myself under control." He paused. "Mostly."

 

Wisely, Amy decided not to touch that statement. "You mentioned it's only been six months since you and Face became lovers. If you don't mind me being nosy, what happened before that?"

 

"You're a reporter; you're professionally nosy. Besides, you're getting involved with us; that gives you a right to know." He paused and took a deep breath. "The lady Face was involved with fell in love with him. It was right after we'd gotten pardoned, and we were still trying to recover from everything we'd done. She fell pretty hard, and didn't believe him when he said he'd only been looking for a good time. He'd been a little too convincing in his attention."

 

Amy winced. She was well aware of how convincing Face could be. "What happened?"

 

"We moved and changed all of our phone numbers so she couldn't stalk him any more. Thankfully she just saw Face's 'Vette as a 'white car', else that might have had to go, too."

 

"Oh my God," Amy said, horrified. "Tell me you had better luck."

 

"I thought so, until Face pointed out to me that the woman I was seeing was out of her right mind, and her left, too," Murdock said lightly, but there was a hint of pain in his voice. "I broke it off after four months."

 

"And found comfort and love in your best friend's arms?" Amy teased deliberately; wanting to erase the heartache she heard in his voice and saw on his face.

 

Murdock shot her a grin. "Something like that, yes. Are you okay with this, querida?"

 

"Yes." She marveled at her lack of hesitation, but she marveled more at how her desire to still date Face and Murdock hadn't faded.

 

"No desire to have a fit of screaming heebee jeebees?" Murdock prodded. "Perhaps with a side of homophobic slurs?"

 

Annoyed at his wording, aware he was deliberately provoking her, Amy snapped, "Only if you keep asking me if I'm okay with knowing the two guys I'm dating are a hell of lot closer than just friends. I still want to kiss you both, okay? And no matter how this crazy idea of yours turns out, I'm still going to be your friend." She reached over to grasp his hand.

 

He kissed the back of her hand, but said only, "Much as I hate to get out of the sky, we need to head back, since our rental time's almost up."

 

Amy said nothing as he turned the plane around and proceeded to land. She wasn't sure what to say that didn't come out sounding defensive and so let her anger cool as she processed his reasons for doing it. Somewhere, somewhen, someone had done exactly as Murdock had described, and hurt him for it.

 

Once out of the plane and away from the tarmac, he led Amy to a shadowed alcove on one side of the airfield's administrative building/tower where no one would be likely to see or overhear them.

 

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I had to know."

 

"I know," she said, her voice tight at the thought of the pain that had to have motivated the question. "I'm a lot of things, Murdock, but a closed-minded bigot isn't one of them. If I was, you wouldn't have made your offer to me. How'd Face put it? Oh, yeah, if I was anyone else, we'd already be having sex. But in case you want proof –"

 

Amy kissed him deeply, lingering, savoring every moment, every nuance of this new-found desire. She wanted to prove to him that she still wanted him, still wanted this nebulous thing that was developing between them.

 

He held her close as he kissed her back, deepening the kiss even further as he sent new spirals of pleasure through her. She'd known a man could turn her on with a kiss, but she'd never had anything with this much heat, this much wicked delight, this much need to give as much as she got. If she'd ever wondered if she was attracted to Murdock this way, she knew she'd more than gotten confirmation.  

 

When he finally stepped back, she was quivering from pleasure and breathing heavily. He looked at her hungrily. His breathing was just a shade ragged. "I'd better take you home, querida, before I do something you're not ready for," he declared.

 

Not trusting her voice, Amy nodded agreement.

 

****

 

She wasn't too surprised when Face called her that evening.

 

"Did you like your flight?" he asked her once the initial pleasantries had been exchanged.

 

"A lot better than the last time Murdock flew something I was in," she admitted.

 

"When was that?"

 

"That was the time we stole that charter plane off the tarmac in Arizona, remember, and found out it was carrying a ton of drugs, remember?"

 

"Oh, yeah, that one," he said cheerfully. "Hey, at least all that got off the street." She could almost see his satisfaction at the way that had turned out.

 

She shook her head. Getting shot at by drug runners hadn't been in the plan that day. "Murdock mentioned you were out looking at real estate. Did you find what you were looking for?"

 

"Not unless I want to spend the next three months of my life overseeing a renovation," he told her honestly. "I was hoping for something I could buy to turn right into a rental, but everything I saw needs more than I want to put into it."

 

"So what are you going to do instead?"

 

"How does you, me, and two weeks in the French Riviera sound?"

 

Amy laughed. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

 

"Nah, Murdock hates the French Riviera," Face deadpanned. "He claims it's overrated. And I'm sure I could convince your boss you need a vacation."

 

"Oh, no you don't," Amy warned.

 

He chuckled. "I won't," and she heard the 'yet' implied in his voice. "But I wanted to apologize for not telling you about –"

 

"Murdock explained it to me," Amy interrupted. "You thought I'd be shocked and angry, didn't you?"

 

Silence filled the line. "You always accepted everything we threw at you without too many questions, Amy," he said finally. "You slid right into the cons I set up as if you'd been doing it all of your life – which we both know you didn't. Sometimes I wondered if you didn't freak out in private, when none of us were around to see it."

 

Face's perception stung. "I'm not freaking out now," Amy pointed out as calmly as she could. "If anything, I'm caught between wondering if you're ashamed of your relationship with Murdock or if you just didn't trust me. If it's the latter, then maybe we ought to lay down some ground rules."

 

"I do trust you, Amy," Face said, sounding annoyed at the accusation. "It's just… old habits are hard to break."

 

"Rules, you mean," Amy corrected. "You told me once you'd break any habit, but there were some rules you wouldn't break. What kind of rules were you living under when you were working for the general that a year later, you find it hard to break them?" Amy wondered.

 

"The same rules I've been living under for two decades," came the quiet reply. "Hannibal's. Except when we worked for the general, they were a hell of a lot stricter. We were under surveillance all the time; couldn't leave the compound without permission, and if we did, there would be people to bring us back – dead or alive. In my head, Amy, I'm still expecting someone to come up and use my relationship with Murdock to force me to do something I would rather not do."

 

Amy swallowed hard at the image Face's words painted. "Has anyone told lately you you're paranoid and that they're not out to get you anymore?" she asked gently.

 

He laughed humorlessly. "Yeah. I'm sorry, Amy. I'm not ashamed to be in love with Murdock. I didn't mean to imply that I was. So I'll ask you again, since you've had some time to think about it, do you still want to see us?"

 

"As long as you promise not to hide any other secrets like that from me," Amy answered steadily. "I'm not talking about the stuff that you can't tell me that's been classified six ways to Sunday – that's something else entirely."

 

"I promise," Face vowed. "I know it's late, so dinner tonight's out of the question, but would you like to join us for dessert? There's a little café I know that does the best Nanaimo bars."

 

Amy groaned. "You would remember I like those," she said, and heard his amused chuckle. "I can't," she apologized, feeling a pang of regret. "If I have any sugar now, I won't be able to get to sleep tonight, and I have plans early tomorrow." She paused, then said, "If you and Murdock are free Wednesday night, we can have dinner together."

 

"We can do that," Face agreed. "Would you like me to pick you up from work?"

 

She smiled. "I'd like that. See you around 5:30, then?"

 

"We'll be there," Face promised. "Sleep well, Amy."

 

"You too."

 

****

 

"Either you're working late, or you have a hot date tonight," Robyn said as she walked up to Amy's desk. "Given that I can tell you fixed your hair and makeup, I vote for the hot date."

 

"Don't you have some place to be? Tai chi class?" Amy said pointedly.

 

"Yes, but you haven't told me about your date," her friend insisted. "Not even a name."

 

Amy sighed and gave up on working. "The Easter Bunny," she said.

 

"Easter was earlier this month, so don't give me that," Robyn shot back. "I can wait until your date shows up."

 

"The guys who sent me flowers are taking me out," Amy conceded. She deliberately made it sound ordinary, though inside she was bursting with anticipation.

 

"And you aren't excited?"

 

"Not really," Amy said blandly, knowing it would drive Robyn crazy. "They haven't changed that much since the last time I saw them."

 

Robyn stared at her. "But you fixed your hair and your makeup," she said helplessly, as if that alone was significant.

 

Amy rolled her eyes. "Would you meet two handsome guys looking like you worked all day, even if they've seen you in worse shape?"

 

The other woman chuckled. "I suppose not. Just friends having dinner, huh?"

 

"Yes. Now go flirt with the guys in your tai-chi class. Maybe one of them will take you out and you'll feel better."

 

Robyn sighed theatrically. "Fine. I'll see you tomorrow. Enjoy your not-date."

 

Amy waited until Robyn was out of earshot before she let herself giggle. She was still chuckling when Murdock and Face walked up.

 

"Good joke?" Face asked.

 

"Something like it," Amy admitted as she grabbed her purse and stepped around the desk…and into Face's arms.

 

Not surprised by the move, Amy accepted the kiss he offered. Kissing him didn't give her the same thrill as kissing Murdock, but it was sweet, familiar, and still gave her a jolt to know there was nothing holding either of them back.

 

Then it was Murdock's turn to kiss her. To her surprise, he kept the kiss brief, yet heat still shot through her. "Don't want to start something I can't stop," he said with a smile before he pulled back. "Ready to go?"

 

"Ready," Amy confirmed.

 

"Do you have a preference for dinner?" Face asked as they made their way out to the elevator.

 

"Didn't make reservations?" Amy asked in surprise.

 

"Thought we'd be a little more casual tonight," Face answered.

 

"Besides, we picked last time," Murdock put in, "so it's your turn."

 

Amy thought for a minute. "How about Mamasita? I could go for something spicy."

 

"That the place over on Sunset?" Murdock asked.

 

"Yes," Amy replied, nodding as the elevator arrived and they entered it. Four other people were all ready in the elevator.

 

Murdock grinned. "They make the best tacos in town."

 

Face shook his head as he checked the button for the ground floor, which was already lit. "You'd live on tacos if I let you," he remarked.

 

"What's wrong with that? I cook, therefore I should have tacos occasionally," Murdock asked with a grin as he stepped closer towards his lover – close enough, Amy noticed, that they could touch without being hassled for it. She hid a smile even as she wondered just how much practice they'd gotten at that particular trick.

 

"Occasionally," Face pointed dryly, "means you get into this streaks where that's all you want." Yet the look he shot Murdock was full of exasperated affection.

 

Amy chuckled. "I never knew you cooked, Murdock."

 

"Took it up as a distraction when we got out of Virginia, went to a couple of classes," he informed her. "Discovered I like it."

 

"I still refuse to buy you a chef's hat," Face stated firmly. "And don't think you can charm Amy into doing it, either."

 

"You're no fun," Murdock pouted. Turning to Amy, he said, "What do you say, we ditch this guy and head off to Vegas? We won't even need a ticket."

 

She laughed. "Won't you miss him?"

 

Murdock appeared to consider the question. "True. He's horrible at keeping Billy."

 

"I am not!" Face protested. "You swore you'd given him up!"

 

The elevator pinged for their floor and they exited with everyone else. "Hmm," Murdock said thoughtfully as they quickly crossed the lobby to the visitor parking lot. "I don't know; that's not nearly enough reason, Amy. You sure I'll miss him?"

 

"Well, I missed you when you were gone," Amy said honestly. "Besides, how would you do without someone you've known for what, two decades or so?"

 

"So you won't run away with me?" Murdock said, wide-eyed and shocked. "But, Amy, you swept me off my feet! I must have you!" He pressed a hand to his heart.

 

"But I'm already with you," Amy pointed out, amused, even as she felt a little thrill at his words. "And from the way I hear it, he's got your heart, so I'd be inclined to make sure you didn't rip it out from him."

 

Murdock stopped at the edge of his car. "Details, details," he scoffed.

 

Face shook his head. "You're just angling to be kissed, that's all."

 

"Oh?" Murdock said, unlocking the doors. "Afraid to kiss me in front of Amy?"

 

"No, you crazy idiot," Face said, irritation and love and lust making his tone rough, "just preferring to kiss you somewhere more private, where if she wants to, she can help. Have you forgotten we're standing in front of Amy's workplace?"

 

Heat surged through Amy at that statement, and she saw an answering flush creep up Murdock's neck. He swallowed hard. "Right, then," he said brightly.

 

Face chuckled dryly, but when Amy looked at him, she read desire in his eyes. She drew in a breath, let it go and let herself be helped into the front passenger seat of the car.

 

Dinner went by in a blur of spicy Mexican food, drinks, and conversation; though Amy knew she'd be hard-pressed to remember what they'd talked about afterwards. What stayed with her more was how easy it felt to be with them; she'd had far more nerve-wracking dates than this.

 

Murdock flirted shamelessly with her and Face. Freed from the need to hide his relationship with Murdock, Face was equally flirtatious, though not as over-the-top as his lover. In a hundred small ways, they showed her their love for each other subtly but concretely, and she wondered how blind she'd been not to notice it before for what it was. She didn't feel excluded, either, and she started to see just how easy being with them could be.

 

By the time they walked her to the door of her condo, she wished the night wouldn't end. She didn't want to stop being with them. Instinctively, she knew if she gave in to that desire, she wouldn't be going to bed alone. It was too soon for that. She nearly reconsidered when they kissed her goodnight on her doorstep and left her breathless.

 

With a very smug grin, Murdock gently nudged her into her condo. "Another time, querida," he promised her.

 

"Sweet dreams, Amy," Face added.

 

Somehow, she found her voice. "Good night," she told them, and watched as Face pulled the door shut.

 

Shuddering, she took a deep breath. A cold shower was definitely in order before bed, she decided.

 

*****

 

Friday, the following week

 

Amy had a killer headache. As Murphy's Law would have it, the week had turned into the kind of week that would drive any sane person to drink. Between the two urgent write-ups she'd had to do, the rejection of a few stories she'd been really advocating doing, and her boss' complete lack of sympathy for her desire to get out of consumer news, all she wanted to do was crawl into bed and forget the world existed. To make matters worse, her computer had been removed for repair after a decree had come down to remove all typewriters from non-secretarial personnel. The tech who'd come to remove her computer had told her she'd have a new one on Monday, but it meant she'd had to switch desks so she could finish the supposedly urgent report.

 

Relieved to finally get that task finished, she headed back to her desk, intent on getting her purse and heading home when she saw Murdock leaning against her desk, playing with her stapler as if it was a puppet. He set back down on her desk when he saw her.

 

"Please tell me you were swept away by Superman," he said, not quite pleading.

 

"No, sorry, he's still hung up on Lois," Amy replied, confused. She didn't quite understand the worry she saw in Murdock's face. "Why?"

 

"You didn't answer your phone. I called and called, and your line went ring-a-dingy, but no one picked up. I called your house and all I got was your answering machine."

 

"Oh." Suddenly, she remembered how the team did periodic checks on each other, and how an unexpected loss of contact would mean alarm. "The voicemail system's been having problems all day. Did I forget we had plans tonight?"

 

Murdock nodded. "You told Face that since you couldn't go to lunch on Tuesday, you'd see us tonight instead? When we couldn't get a hold of you, he went to your house and I came here to make sure you're okay."

 

She glanced at her watch, saw it was two hours past the time she should have been at their house, and groaned. "Oh, God, Murdock, I'm sorry. I'm not really good company, though. Can we make it another night?"

 

He studied her a moment. "Bad day?"

 

She blew out a breath. "Bad week," she said apologetically.

 

"Oh, pobrecita," Murdock said softly. "You look like you need a hug."

 

She went willingly into his arms and took the simple comfort he offered. When he tilted her head up for a kiss, she didn't pull away, but parted her lips and met him halfway. For a minute, she let herself get lost in desire.

 

Murdock ended the kiss gently and with an apologetic smile. "If we don't get going soon, Face is going to worry about us both," he told her. "Come on; let me take you home to our place."

 

"I really think I should-" she started to protest.

 

He laid a finger over her lips. "Let us make up for a bad week, okay? I made pot roast, and Face picked out a really nice wine to go with it."

 

For a moment, Amy resisted, but the compassion in Murdock's face undid her. "I can't think of the last time I had homemade pot roast." If she was honest with herself, she knew she didn't want to be alone tonight.

 

He smiled, taking her words for the agreement they were. Within a few minutes, they were in his car, which looked like it had been repaired since the last time she'd been in it.

 

"No duct tape?" she teased him.

 

"Finally had a chance to drop it off to BA," Murdock said with a grin, patting the dashboard. "Got it back yesterday."

 

Murdock headed northeast out of the parking lot, towards the house he shared with Face instead west to her condo. As he drove, he picked up the car phone and dialed. Tucking the receiver under his ear, he said, "Hey, Face, it's me. Amy was just working late and lost track of time. Yeah, we'll meet you at home. Don't get any speeding tickets getting home, all right?" He laughed at something Face said and hung up.

 

"You shouldn't have worried," Amy said quietly.

 

Murdock shrugged as he took the onramp to the freeway. "Would you rather I didn't care?" he asked quietly.

 

"No, it's just – it wasn't like something happened to me."

 

"Maybe not this time," he returned, reaching across the center console to grasp her hand, "but I'd rather worry needlessly than have a reason. Besides, you're my girlfriend. I'm supposed to worry about you."

 

Amy couldn't argue with that statement. Murdock flipped on the radio, tuning it to a jazz station, and she sat back to let the music unwind her as he drove to his home.

 

In the fading evening light, the large two-story house had the look of something that had been around for a good forty years. It sat on a corner lot surrounded by woodland, tucked back from the street smack in the middle of a new development. As they pulled into the garage, Amy noted that it was big enough to fit both Murdock's car and Face's 'vette as well as a large chest freezer. Murdock led her through a small mudroom to a short hallway. While she waited for him to make sure he'd locked the door to the garage, she looked around.

 

A half bath was positioned immediately to her right; a closet stood opposite it. Directly in front of her was a large living room; just around the corner from the closet she could see the stairs leading to the second floor. To her right, she saw the front door and another room that looked like it was being used as a game room, judging from the pool table and pinball machine she could see through the French doors closing in the room. Beyond the living room and down the hallway from the staircase, she could see a four-person dining table set for three; beyond it was the screen door leading out to a deck.

 

"I'll give you the grand tour later," Murdock promised. "But to answer the usual questions: four bedrooms, two and a half baths, about three thousand square feet, and I have no idea how Face found this place either. I don't want to know, either." He grinned and gestured to his left. "Come on, the kitchen's this way."

 

The dining room was bordered on its right by the kitchen, which looked like it had undergone a complete modernization; the stainless steel appliances and stone countertops still looked new. To the left of the dining room was a closed door. Before she could wonder what it led to, she was distracted by the sight of Face as he pulled the roast onto a platter.

 

His eyes lit up when he saw her. He put down the utensils he'd used to pull the roast out of a roasting pan on the counter and stepped forward to kiss her thoroughly.

 

"I'm glad you're here," he told her before kissing Murdock as well.

 

Amy watched them kiss. For a moment, she felt as though the rest of the world ceased to exist. Abruptly, she was aware that this was her real test – she'd watched them flirt and hold hands and be generally discreet about their relationship, but not kiss. Watching them kiss now made her wish she was a part of the love they had, and she was suddenly afraid she wasn't good enough to share in it like they wanted. Then Murdock stepped back and reality came rushing back in like a tidal wave.

 

Somehow, it hadn't quite sunk in until that moment that Face and Murdock were lovers, in every sense of that word. Abruptly she realized she had seen them as being in love but somehow not the rest of it. It made her feel extremely naïve.

 

"How did you manage to beat us here?" Murdock asked Face. "You had twice as far to go than we did."

 

Face grinned. "I was already almost to the station when you called," he told Murdock. "I just hit the freeway and cruised here. Got here about fifteen minutes ago; enough time to heat everything back up."

 

Turning to Amy, Face asked, "Want anything to drink? Water, soda, wine, beer?"

 

Amy watched as Murdock scooped vegetables out of the pot and onto a platter, feeling oddly disconcerted by the domestic scene. Of all the things she knew Face and Murdock were capable of doing, this definitely ranked low on the list. She'd known the team could cook to various degrees, but this was beyond what she'd seen them do. Why it surprised her so, she wasn't sure; she'd known they were capable of anything they set their minds to do.

 

"Wine first, then some water," Amy agreed, grateful for the question to distract her from her thoughts. "If you bought it to go with this dinner, then I'd hate your effort to go to waste."

 

Face smiled and went to retrieve a corkscrew from a drawer near the refrigerator and the wine while Murdock moved the platter to the table.

 

"Anything I can do?" Amy asked.

 

"Have a seat," Murdock invited as he went to fill glasses with water. "We've got it under control."

 

Soon, the drinks were on the table, the men were seated, and plates were filled with food.

 

"You left your bathroom light on," Face remarked to Amy after they'd begun eating.

 

She stared at him. "I'm not sure whether to thank you or be mad you broke into my condo." She sighed. "Were you that worried about me?"

 

"You're pretty good about calling if you're running late," he said simply.

 

"If I'd remembered we were having a date, I would have called." She offered him an apologetic smile. "Sorry. So should I be worried that you were able to get in?"

 

Face smiled. "I'll call a locksmith tomorrow for you, if you like, and have him replace your locks with better ones." Apologetically, he added, "They generally don't install good ones in a condo complex like yours."

 

"I wondered if you'd say that; I've been meaning to replace them."

 

"If it makes you feel any better, Amy," Murdock interjected, "he says that about most locks he's able to pick."

 

Amy turned that idea over as she ate more of her dinner. "I'm not sure if that does, but I'll take it as a comfort anyway. I thought you weren't doing those kinds of things anymore."

 

"Well, no, but I figured this counted as an emergency exception," Face replied. "I think you'd agree it was preferable to me breaking down the door."

 

"True," she conceded. "I just got a little swamped at work. I should probably get you a key so you don't have to do that again."

 

"He'd pick it anyway just for the practice," Murdock pointed out with a smile, and chuckled when Face shot him a glare. "What? You know you will, so don't give me that."

 

"Speaking of your work, when I called you on Tuesday to go to lunch," Face said, changing the subject, "you were working on a tip from the hotline for a story. You didn't want to tell me what it was because you were afraid to jinx it. Did you get it approved?"

 

Amy shook her head. "No, my boss thought the infant cushion recall story took precedence. Sad thing, though."

 

"Oh?" Murdock said. "What was the tip?"

 

"Some guy called in and said his daughter had swallowed magnets from one of those travel board games and died. He wanted to be sure we warned other parents. I'd been working on it off and on for a few months now, but this week was the first time I'd gotten to present everything I had on it."

 

"Died?" Murdock asked incredulously.

 

Amy nodded. "They got stuck in her small intestine and created a blockage. The father's suing the hospital because they used an MRI on her, which, from what I understand, made things worse. I found out later that he failed to tell the ER staff what his daughter had swallowed, so they ran all sorts of tests on her."

 

Both men winced. "So your boss doesn't want to give this guy any publicity because it might go to court?" Face asked.

 

"It would be one thing if this was something I could prove was happening elsewhere, but I talked with the Consumer Product Commission, and my contacts in the medical community, and no one's seeing it as anything widespread. Kids swallow all sorts of things." Amy sounded resigned. "The guy I talk to at County General was telling me about a kid who died because he swallowed his mother's hoop earring."

 

"That's just awful," Murdock said. "Is that the first time you've been turned down on a story?"

 

Amy shook her head. "No, I usually pitch five to seven ideas. I consider it a good week if I get three of them approved, and that's not counting all the time I spend gathering all the supporting information. A lot of the story ideas get dictated by what management thinks the public needs to know." She sighed. "This week was not a good week at all."

 

Face reached across the table to clasp her hand reassuringly. "I'm sorry to hear that. Any other stories in the works?"

 

Amy grimaced. "Nothing that I don't feel like I haven't already said in the past year, but I got turned down for transferring out of consumer news."

 

"You put in a transfer?" Murdock looked surprised, putting his fork down. "To what?"

 

"And when?" Face added.

 

The alarmed looks on their faces caused Amy to pause. "Back to foreign news," she said carefully. "I submitted the request the same week you showed up in my office."

 

"And you didn't think it was important to mention it to us?" Murdock sounded hurt.

 

Amy shrugged. "I didn't see the point in saying anything until I knew one way or the other."

 

"Are you going to try again?" Face asked.

 

With a start, Amy realized that they were worried she was leaving them. The realization sent a flash of guilt through her. "My boss made it clear he isn't going to support a transfer. I'd have to either wait until my boss leaves or leave the company."

 

"Do you really want to go back to reporting the stories you used to tell?" Face looked like he was trying to understand. "I seem to recall you griped about living out of a suitcase."

 

She chuckled. "I did, didn't I? I just…I'm getting bored with trying to make the stuff I think should be common sense interesting. Like 'don't plug in an electrical heater near a bathtub.' They actually issued a national safety bulletin on that, can you believe it? There are days where I feel a bit like a weather girl."

 

Amused, Face replied, "Oh, but you're much prettier and smarter than a weather girl."

 

Amy shook her head. "I'm not even going to ask how you'd know, because I'm sure the answer is you knew one."

 

"It is, trust me," Murdock put in. "But reporting consumer news seems a heck of a lot safer than trying to report international news. Didn't you say you were shot at in Hong Kong?"

 

Amy grinned. "Well, you guys did teach me how to duck and run."

 

"I hope we taught you more than that," Face said warningly. "I saw the stories you covered after we lost contact with you. Were you trying to win prizes for being on the front lines?'

 

Amy flushed at the accusation. "No. I just went where the stories were. And besides, the lessons you taught me did come in handy."

 

"Well, then," Face said, clearly relieved, "that's nice to know, but really, Amy, that's not what we intended."

 

She shot him a look. "What did you expect me to do with that knowledge? I didn't see the point in letting it go to waste. All I could do long-distance was research, and I felt guilty I couldn't do more. If it wasn't for Hannibal reminding me that I had to stay out of the country unless I wanted to be arrested, you know I would've shown up more to help you."

 

"Decker made sure you were listed as a member of the Team," Murdock reminded her. "He kept going on and on about it when he visited me at the VA. If he hadn't, we wouldn't have known he'd put out the word that he wanted you detained for questioning the moment you came back into the country."

 

Amy rolled her eyes. "I still would love to strangle Decker for that. Did you know I had to stand in an US Embassy Immigration Office and explain that a paranoid colonel thought I knew where the A-Team was? I said I did — you were dead." Anger flashed at the memory. "Would you believe I had to stand there and wait for them to call Decker so I could explain to him that you were dead, and he'd missed the memo?"

 

Face chuckled. "I bet he hated hearing that."

 

Amy nodded, a smile lighting her face. "Oh, most definitely. He accused me of planting the story to get the heat off you. I said I would never report on the death of the A-Team, and if he'd read it in the paper without my byline, then he had to know was true. It was amazing just how quickly I was allowed back into the US after that."

 

She looked at both men. "It's nice to know I fooled him again. I never did like him."

 

Murdock grinned. "Feeling's mutual, querida. He used to bug me every chance he got, trying to see where I'd crack and let him know where the rest of the team was."

For the next several minutes, conversation faded to silence as they concentrated on finishing their meal.

"Why did you leave the LA Courier?" Murdock asked suddenly as they cleared the table a several minutes later.

 

Amy busied herself with rinsing her plate. "I didn't duck fast enough," she said lightly, using the excuse of putting the plate in the dishwasher to avoid meeting their eyes.

 

"Amy—" Murdock's hands gently turned her to face him. He kissed her tenderly before asking, "How bad?"

 

She tried to smile as she felt Face behind her, his hands rubbing her shoulders. "Bullet went through my right shoulder." She took a deep breath. "Near as anyone can figure, they weren't aiming for me, but the guy I was interviewing."

 

Face dropped a kiss on that shoulder. The gesture made Amy's heart ache; made her wish they'd been there for the months of recovery she'd spent alone.  "What were you doing there in the first place?"

 

Now the smile came more easily. "Courting danger," she said, chuckling. "I didn't mind the shooting as much as I minded being told that I'd overextended my medical leave and they weren't going to hold my position open for me anymore."

 

She paused, her hands reaching up to caress Face's hands as they rested on her upper arms. "I was seeing someone then. He… he didn't handle me being shot well."

 

"I don't think I'd handle you getting hurt like that well," Murdock remarked.

 

"Yes, but that time I got hurt in Oregon on a mission, you were making jokes, hiding the fact you hated what happened," Amy shot back. "You taught me how to deal with getting injured and still go on."

 

"Did we forget to teach you only guys like us can deal with that sort of thing?" Face asked gently, turning her around to face him. "And even then we're whistling in a graveyard."

 

"I knew that, but Philip was strong in so many other ways. I guess I thought maybe he could." Amy sighed. "Anyway, I knew a guy who worked for Channel 11, and he helped get me this position."

 

"Do you regret leaving the Courier?" Murdock wondered as he stepped away from Amy to put the leftover pot roast in the fridge. Face took that as his cue to finish putting the rest of the dishes in the dishwasher.

 

"Not really," Amy replied. "I just wish my boss now didn't see consumer news as being this vital service to the public, and I should not only support the choir, but preach the gospel, too."

 

"Oh, one of those?" Face asked with a smile as he led the way into the living room, where an overstuffed green couch took center stage, flanked by a pair of pale brown leather chairs.

 

"He's a good guy, just…" She sighed. "Hard to get passionate about some of the stuff we do over and over."

 

She sat down between Face and Murdock. "Go ahead, lay down," Murdock suggested.

 

"Hold on, let me get my shoes off," she said.

 

"Don't worry about it," Face replied, "I'll get them off for you." He waited until her head was settled in Murdock's lap, then swung her feet up and easily removed her high heels, dropping them on the floor. He then began rubbing her feet.

 

"Oh, God, I wish I'd known you could do this," Amy murmured in pleasure.

 

He chuckled, pleased with her response as he continued to massage her feet with expert strokes. "Well, now you know."

 

"Remember when BA bet Amy couldn't run a mile in high heels in less than seven minutes?" Murdock said.

 

Amy laughed. "Yeah, and then Hannibal said if I could do that, you better all not be behind me." She looked at Face. "You were running deliberately slow, weren't you?"

 

Face grinned, unrepentant. "Someone had to make sure that if you tripped, someone would be there to catch you."

 

"And the fact you were enjoying the rear view was a mere side effect?" Amy asked dryly.

 

Face's grin widened. "Of course," he said. "Made you run faster, too, didn't it?"

 

"And avoid you like the plague afterwards," Murdock observed. "How long did your ankles hurt, querida?"

 

Amy groaned. "Too long," she remembered. "And I'd practiced, too, just in case that came up. That Chinese herbal stuff you gave me worked, though."

 

"You should've said something," Face admonished her.

 

Amy chuckled, remembering. "I wasn't talking to you then, remember? Besides, I wasn't sure if you'd take that to mean I forgave you for checking me out."

 

"She's got you there, Face," Murdock said. "And let's face it, you would have."

 

"Ignore him," Face suggested to Amy. "He thinks I should apologize for thinking you've always been beautiful."

 

"Well, that may be," she replied, amused, "but I don't think I'd want anyone to apologize for thinking that."

 

Murdock considered this a moment and frowned. "Does that mean you like him better than you do me?"

 

Amy laughed. "No, silly. But I might add a point in your favor if you were to kiss me."

 

"Nah," Murdock immediately replied. "I wouldn't want to be accused of being easily bribed."

 

Shaking her head, Amy sat up and glanced at her watch. "As much as I'd like to keep up this merry mayhem, it's late and I'm tired. I assume neither of you wants to drive me back?"

 

"Not really," Murdock answered slowly. "Face?"

 

"No," he replied. "Stay, Amy, please. I'll take you back in the morning, but unless you have something going on first thing tomorrow, we'd love to have breakfast with you. Murdock's been experimenting with Belgian waffles."

 

Amy's eyes narrowed suspiciously, then she laughed. "Okay, okay, you are trying to seduce me through my stomach."

 

"Is it working?" Murdock asked hopefully.

 

She didn't dignify that with an answer. "So where am I sleeping tonight, and can I borrow a shirt to sleep in?"

 

Murdock and Face looked at each other.

 

"Sure you don't want someone to hold you while you sleep?" Face asked.

 

She considered the offer as apprehension snaked through her. She knew all too well how quickly such a situation could turn into something more. "Just holding, no pressure for anything else?"

 

"I'll do it," Murdock offered quickly. "Put him in bed with you, and he'll want more."

 

"Oh, and you won't?" Amy asked archly, ignoring the frisson of fear that he would. For a moment, her mind was congested with doubt.

 

Murdock grinned. "Not tonight," he admitted. "The planets are not aligned," he added, donning a haughty air.

 

She burst into laughter, suddenly aware that he was deliberately acting crazy to lighten the mood. "All right. Which way to the guest room?"

 

"Upstairs on the right; the office's the room at that far end of the hall," Face answered. "Let me go up and grab you a shirt. Did you want to shower before bed?"

 

"I was planning on it," Amy agreed, grateful for the excuse to delay.

 

"The bathroom in the hall's the closest to the guest room and should have everything. Give me five minutes to put the shirt on the back of the door."

 

Not waiting for her agreement, he headed upstairs.

 

 

TBC

 


The Velocity Of Longing by Raine Wynd
The Velocity Of Longing 2 by Raine Wynd

 

 


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