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This page last viewed: 2017-04-25 and has been viewed 1772 times
Rating: PG-ish, for now
Warnings: light slash (well, so far <g>)
Disclaimer: The A-Team belongs to Stephen J. Cannell and Universal. I make no profit from this.
Summary: Late spring fades into summer, and Face is looking for what's missing.
He drove unconsciously, finding it hard to pay any real attention to the road. He was in Westwood, on the back roads, luckily, since he found himself sitting at stop signs for minutes at a time before realizing it.
His route was aimless, he thought, yet found himself pulling up to the curb down the street behind the VA.
He wasn't sure why.
Leaning forward, he rested his chin on his hands on the steering wheel, letting the car idle as he stared out across the wide back lawn of the VA, which led to the wall of the VA proper. His eyes moved along the building with a practiced eye, counting windows till he reached the one that he knew was Murdock's.
He sat, just staring out the windshield. What was he doing here? He needed to talk. Murdock always listened. He needed that. He needed *something*.
He sat there for a while longer, trying to come up with a plan or even just a viable idea, of how to get in to see Murdock. Finally he sighed and shook his head. His brain was all fuzzy; he couldn't come up with anything remotely coherent. He found himself tempted to go in anyway; a few of the nurses were kind of used to seeing him on Sunday mornings and would probably let him pass. But that in and of itself was a problem, if one of them decided to investigate Mr. Murdock's friend.
Besides, it was way too early, still.
He'd had another Saturday night, alone but not alone. Another woman. Another night wantonly, wastefully spent. Another morning of wanting something more. He'd escaped the confines of her apartment (Alicia? Amber?) before dawn. The sun was up now, but not up far enough. Way too early.
So he put the car into gear and sat there for a moment longer before easing his foot off of the brake and pulling slowly away. His apartment, when he got there, was closed up and stuffy, dust particles dancing in the sunlight, decidedly empty. He hung his suit jacket over a chair and sat down heavily on the couch. He stayed there for several minutes staring into space. What he really wanted to do was to get up and take a shower. But he couldn't quite find the energy to move.
He glanced over at the phone, then at his watch. 7:30. Probably too early. But Murdock kept odd hours anyway. He should go take a shower, maybe make some coffee, give it some time. He got up to head to the shower, found himself picking up the phone instead. He'd dialed before he thought too much about it, then heard the first ring. He'd probably wake him up. Definitely too early. He was going to hang up quick, had his thumb on the disconnect, not sure why he called at all, and not wanting to have to explain anything, when he heard Murdock's cheerful and fully awake voice.
"Sid's House of Pain, Sid speaking, how may I hurt you?"
Face smiled involuntarily. He dropped to the couch with the phone in his lap.
"You usually answer the phone like that?"
"A solid answering technique is a basic tenet of good customer service." Murdock's voice had a smile in it, and he dropped the routine. "How you doing, Facey? I thought you was still out of town."
"No, got back a couple of days ago."
"And you haven't come to see me yet?" There was a put-on pout in the pilot's voice. "For shame, Face! First you leave me stranded here instead of letting me fly you . . ."
"It was in Long Beach, Murdock."
Murdock never hesitated in his diatribe. "Even though I *know* a chopper would have gotten you there much, much faster. Then you never even write . . ."
"I was gone for five days!" Face's tone was one of almost gleeful exasperation.
"And *now* you don't come see me once you're back. What am I to you, anyway?" Murdock asked good-humoredly.
Face couldn't speak for a moment, so strong was the feeling that surged up in him. Good question, he thought, thinking back to his silent vigil outside the VA that morning. What are you to me, anyway?
There was a pause where Murdock waited for the conman to defend himself. When that didn't happen, Murdock asked in a softer tone, "You doin' okay, Face?"
Face's response was purely reflex. "Yeah, I'm fine." Another pause, and Face could feel Murdock almost weighing the accuracy of the statement. He spoke quickly to forestall any questions. "How was your week?"
"Eh. Comme ci, comme ca. Not much going on here." He gave what amounted to an itchy sigh.
Kind of just what Face wanted to hear. Now, he'd be doing it for Murdock, not for himself. He made his voice low and inviting. "Want I should come get you?" Teasing, knowing Murdock would always respond in kind.
"Oh, yeah, baby, you know it." Face couldn't detect the laugh in the voice, but knew Murdock must be joking. Teasing, always.
"You say the word, I'm there."
"The word," Murdock responded instantly.
"I'm there." Face surprised himself with the relief apparent in his voice. He glanced at his watch. "Give me 45 minutes for a shower and some inspiration."
"I'll be ready." Face could almost picture the loopy grin spread across Murdock's features. Made him smile himself. He felt the adrenaline coursing through his blood: anticipation of seeing Murdock setting his mind to working, already coming up with a plan of how to spring him, when earlier it had seemed impossible. This was good. He needed to talk, and Murdock had the ability to be an excellent listener. This was very good.
"Thanks, ah, Cindy, is it?" Face flashed his dazzling smile, the one that was meant to blind the mind to anything out of the ordinary, so caught up in the supposed attention paid to them by the handsome Face. He'd have made a hell of a doctor, he thought; he looked so damn cute in a lab coat.
The young nurse (new, he noted) gave him a yearning smile back. "So you'll bring Mr. Murdock back after the appraisal?"
Face laid a comforting hand on her shoulder and looked directly into her eyes. "Of course, Cindy. Now, if you'll just initial right here?" He considerately held the clipboard for her as she carefully signed off on the release of one HM Murdock. "Excellent. We'll have him back within the week, if all goes well. Mr. ah, Murdock?" Face called across the room to where Murdock was laid across his bed sideways, head invisible as he dug underneath, hanging upside down, rooting around for something.
There was no response except for what sounded like muttered curses as he leaned further under the bed, tilting dangerously forward. Face raised his voice. "Murdock!" He cast a charming smile over at the slightly confused nurse, squeezing her shoulder slightly and not missing the color that rose in her cheeks.
A definite curse this time, and Murdock's head emerged, triumphant, as he held up the dusty baseball cap, retrieved from where it had fallen between the bed and the wall.
"Mr. Murdock?" Face used his solicitous voice, accompanied by a tilt of his head and a raised eyebrow that only Murdock could see.
"Ah, right, doc." Murdock rolled off the bed, landing neatly on his feet. Face always wondered how those long legs didn't get in his way more often. He slapped the dust off his cap and pulled it on, summed up the flirty connection between Face and the slightly bewildered nurse with a glance. He scooped up his jacket and bag and headed out the door, slipping between Face and the nurse, pausing only to give Face an amused look and his own pat on the shoulder, with his back to the nurse. He headed down the hall, Face trailing behind, giving the nurse the clipboard and last minute reassurances and one final grateful look that would hopefully blind her to any weirdness regarding this discharge.
One last casual smile, that he lost as soon as he turned away and sped up his steps down the hall, hissing, "Murdock!" at the pilot, who was standing way up the hall at the elevator, pressing the down button steadily and repeatedly. Face caught up to him just as the door opened and Murdock jumped in and immediately started pressing the ground floor button just as steadily and repeatedly. The door closed and Murdock turned and gave Face a wide grin. Face couldn't help but grin back.
Together at last.
Where did that come from? He dismissed that worry with a shake of his head, letting the happiness flow through him without much scrutiny. He needed this. Why couldn't he remember that? Needed this, more than he needed those women. This was saner, wasn't it, than trading on his looks for a partner for the night? Was that right? Was hanging out with a madman saner than seducing women in bars every Saturday night? Maybe it was, at that. Felt better, actually. Felt like himself, whatever that was.
Face realized he was still gazing steadily at Murdock next to him, and that Murdock was now looking back, worried at his silence. He'd just opened his mouth to say something when the bell dinged and the elevator door slid open. Glancing out the door, Murdock shut his mouth and motioned Face out ahead of him, but his look indicated this wasn't a lost subject.
Face wasn't sure whether he feared or anticipated the coming conversation.
Out the door, no questions asked. White lab coats could work miracles, sometimes. Especially coupled with Face's smile. Quick around the corner and into the 'vette, out the gates and they were free. Face was grinning smugly, another con pulled off smoothly. He felt cocky, together, for the first time this week, and he allowed his gaze to slide over to Murdock, catching his eye and hoping that he felt the same way. Murdock grinned back, happy to be out on this gorgeous Westwood Sunday, with Face, and everything so very fine. They cracked each other up, with their loopy smiles, and drove off, the day spreading out ahead of them.
A warm evening breeze blew over him as he dug his bare feet further into the
sand. He rested his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands and glanced
sideways over at Murdock. The pilot was also barefoot, busily tracing designs
in the sand with his fingers, then smoothing them out, starting over with a
clean slate. It had worked out well, today had, and Face once again reflected
how glad he was that he'd given in and called Murdock. That fighting against
what you know is right, it got him every time. He'd get all wound up in life,
going along and not being happy with it, and never take the time to look at
why. Murdock helped him take the time. The slightly crazy pilot was never too
busy to talk, and his gentle ways and honest listening had a way of leading
Face down paths he never would have thought of taking.
Like today. Murdock had scrunched his face and shaken his head at any of Face's
suggestions of movies, food, or activities to keep them busy. Instead, he'd
insisted they take a quiet day; head to the house Face was staying at (a beach
house, naturally, Face being drawn to them like he was to no place else).
Mooching about on the private beach out back, Murdock exploring the little tide
pools amongst the rocks, Face actually dealing with wrinkles by rolling up his
cotton pants so they could go wading.
The talked about everything and nothing. Easy talk, no pressure, no guilt, no
worries. They talked about Hannibal and BA, about the last mission, about
Murdock's sessions with Richter. Face worried, sometimes, about how much help
Murdock could get from Richter, when he had to hide so much. Hiding who and
what he was couldn't lend itself well to the therapy. But he got something out
of it, it seemed, and he didn't mind talking about his therapy with Face.
They laughed, a lot. Face found himself laughing more with Murdock than with
anyone else, and it was open, honest laughter. Easy.
As the day drifted into evening, they found a comfy spot and sat down, quieter
now, but a comfortable quiet. Face had snagged a few bottles from the house,
and they sat sipping the cold beer and watching the sun set. Murdock looked up
from his tracings, caught Face looking at him. Gave him a smile, and Face
smiled back, unworried, not even trying to look away. Didn't matter that he'd
been looking, Murdock didn't mind, and Face found that he himself didn't mind.
The entirety of the circumstances, the comfort level of just being with
Murdock, the hazy sunshine all day, how tired he still was from the marked lack
of sleep last night, it all came together to leave him open.
Wanting to be open, like this.
Suddenly he felt even more tired, it hitting him how difficult the act was
getting. Last night had drained him, and the contrast between that and this
left him slightly shaky. Everything and nothing, a game but not a game.
Murdock, still looking at him, leaned back on his elbows in the sand. The wind
had kept threatening to remove his treasured baseball cap, so he'd pulled it
off and stuck it in his back pocket. His hair was wavy and wild around his
head, and the setting sun made him squint slightly. "You look tired."
Face raised an eyebrow, an immediate instinct at being read so easily. Opened
his mouth to dismiss the thought, and found himself sighing, instead. "I *am*
Murdock frowned at him slightly, in the muted afternoon sun. "Head back to the
Face said, too quickly, "No." This was too good, here. Didn't want the real
world to intrude too soon. "Ah, not yet. This is comfortable, enough. I don't
feel quite like moving."
Murdock settled back into the sand, but he was still studying Face. Had a
measuring look to him that made Face slightly uneasy. Finally, Murdock said,
"So tell me, Face, what exactly is going on in that pretty little head of
yours?" He was drawling and had a little half-smile on his face, but his eyes
stayed serious. Serious and steady on Face, and Face shifted a little under
that gaze, knowing that he wasn't going to get out of this one easily.
"Too much, sometimes, I think." Must be tired. Too damn honest. "I get going on
something in my head, and I just can't seem to stop. Can't focus." He sighed
and closed his eyes for a second. "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing with my
life," he muttered. Talking to himself, maybe. Maybe just talking.
Murdock stretched a bit, took a sip of beer, settled into the sand. Didn't take
his eyes off of Face. Didn't say anything, just stayed focused on him, till
Face opened his eyes to stare out at the ocean once more. Waited. Easy.
"You ever want something, but you don't know what it is? So you keep trying for
it, keep looking for it, but you know it's a lost cause. And you get lost in
the looking and. . ." He shook his head, hard. "This is stupid. Never mind. I'm
not making any sense."
"Now that's where you're wrong, Facey." Murdock's voice was tough and gentle at
the same time, still with that heavy drawl. "Makes perfect sense to me."
Face turned his head to look at Murdock, resting his cheek on his drawn-up
knees. He felt weary. Weary and willing to let go.
Murdock said softly, "You always make sense to me."
It was twilight and dim, the shadows around Murdock making it hard to see his
face. Hard to read him. Face felt like his reflexes were slow, as he tried to
think. Tried to focus.
The breeze was warm and smelled of the vanishing sunlight, smelled of warmth
and sea and sand. The sand was still warm beneath them and the beach sounds
surrounding them created its own kind of silence, enveloping them. Face let go
of his knees, lay back in the sand, too, unconsciously (maybe) emulating
Murdock's posture. Leaned back on his elbows and looked out into the gathering
darkness. Took a breath of the salty air.
Murdock was quiet, too, waiting easily, the silence not heavy but willing.
Face's voice was low. "I get lost in the looking. I'm tired, Murdock. Just. .
.tired." He fell silent again, and Murdock's voice came from the dusky light.
"Tired of what?" Not baiting, just honestly curious.
"Of. . ." He gestured vainly. Of *it*. Of everything. Of the girls, of the
trivial dates, of the filling up of time in between missions. Of being able to
pick and choose, apparently just due to his looks, and not finding anything
he'd want to choose. Of not being *happy*. Didn't any of it, all of it, his
whole damn life, get him something? When he finally spoke, it was soft and
almost to himself. "Of always waiting. Waiting for something. Haven't I paid my
dues by now?"
He was looking away, up at the stars just beginning to tinge the night sky with
their light. He didn't know it, couldn't know it, but his eyes were bright in
the dim light, bright and huge and maybe a bit more desperate than they'd ever
Lost, again, he'd faded and didn't notice till Murdock put his hand on his arm,
gentle, bringing him back. "Hey."
Face turned to look at him. The hand on his arm was warm against his skin, skin
suddenly cool with the loss of the sunlight. "I don't know how to say it."
Face's voice was steady, still, which was nice. He'd thought it would shake. He
must be better at this than he thought. Too talented sometimes.
This close, he could see Murdock's eyes in the dim light, studying him still.
When Murdock finally spoke, he sounded angry, almost. "Tired. How dare you be
tired, right? Of course you're tired! There's too much going on during the
missions and not enough afterwards. You get wired and worn out and then it's
over and real life just doesn't seem to be enough." He stopped for a second,
looking at Face but maybe not seeing him, really. His eyes had that
thousand-yard stare, looking at something else entirely. His words were quick
and clipped. "What dues are we paying, really? There's so much to pay for." He
laughed shortly. "Nam? How do we pay for that? Pay for the women, children,
villages, the stuff we did? No way. And the government? Right. Ain't no audit
ever gonna come up with a sum they'd be willing to take in exchange for us." A
pause. "For you guys, I mean," he added softly.
He looked into Face's eyes for a moment in the dimness, held that gaze, then
dropped it, looked at where his hand rested on his arm, slowly started to
withdraw it. Without thinking, Face put his own hand over it, held it where it
was. "If they only knew, Murdock. There's no way-no way-we could do this
without you. And you're right, you know. . .about real life not being enough.
Sometimes. A lot of the time." He gave Murdock a sideways grin. "Are we
actually saying that dealing with the insanity-ah, no offense. . ."
Murdock nodded graciously. "None taken."
". . .that dealing with that, the jazz, has spoiled us for anything else?" His
eyes had adjusted to the dark and he could see Murdock grinning back.
Murdock pulled his hand away to pick up his beer, took another sip, still
looking at Face. "Maybe it has, at that. Or maybe. . ." He stopped, seemed
pensive, then shook his head slowly, drank some more beer.
Face watched Murdock watching the ocean. "What?"
Murdock sighed, looked at Face, opened his mouth, then shut it. Shook his head.
"Never mind." There was a little grin on his face. "Just. . .never mind."
Turnabout being fair play, Face studied Murdock carefully. Distracted, now,
from his own troubles, and curious. This was a game he knew how to play.
He picked up his own beer from where it rested in the sand beside him, took a
long sip, covertly looking at Murdock from the corner of his eye. Put the beer
back down, and shifted a bit in the sand, so that he was facing Murdock. Waited
till he knew he'd drawn Murdock's gaze. Murdock watched, still with that odd
half-grin, as Face ran a hand through his wind-blown hair, tilted his head,
gave him that gaze. That look.
That conman look.
Now, Faceman, that's just not playing fair at all, is it?
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