Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except for Audrey. She is completely mine.
Authors Note: I wrote this for a boot camp exercise. As for Audrey she is in one of my other fic dealing with Ace, but I haven't finished that one yet but it will be up soon. It's rated T for mild cursing. Read and enjoy!
"Alright Ace, you're clear for take off," Slipstream's deep voice came over the radio. Ace saluted towards Slipstream's direction and turned the Striker towards the runway. He did a final check of the plane's stats before pushing down on the pedal. A mixture of fear and excitement ripped through him as he came barreling down the runway. The Striker started to wobble as it began to rise. Ace kept his hand locked on the control stick till he leveled the plane. He released his breath as his rapidly beating heart started to calm now that take off was over with.
"Clear blue sky, few clouds, a nice seventy-five degrees, and hardly a breeze. This is going to be boring."
Ace unclipped his face mask. "At least it'll be a nice fly." Ace smiled. It was going to be a good day, even if it was Friday the thirteenth. Nope, take off had gone off without a hitch and he felt that this was going to be a nice relaxing day. It was a pleasant thought for such a superstitious day. Now all he had to deal with was Ripcord's complaining till he could eject him out of the plane. Ace gave a wolfish grin as his eyes flashed with amusement; ejecting Ripcord was always the highlight of his morning training sessions.
Ripcord scowled and crossed his arms. "What can I say? I live for challenges and today it's just going to be a cake walk."
"Haven't you heard the saying watch what you wish for?"
"Yeah, but I haven't wished for anything."
"You're starting to sound like a woman." Ace chuckled as he felt Ripcord kick the back of his seat. "Come on its just exercises. Nothing too bad ever happens anyways."
"Now, who should be watching what they wish for?"
"Shove it, Ripcord!"
"Okay, okay. Don't get your panties in a wad."
Ace grumbled something under his breath and jerked the control stick making Ripcord yell out a curse and 'what the hell?' Ace smirked. "Oops, we must have hit an air current."
"Alright you two, cut it out!" Slipstream's voice crackled over the radio. "I don't want any accidents happening. This day always makes me a little nervous."
"Awww, come on Slipstream, you don't really believe in all this hocus pocus mumbo jumbo do you?"
"I didn't say that. I just said it makes me nervous," Slipstream barked, "Now you're almost over the target and no screw ups or you two will be cleaning my quarters for a month. Got it?"
Both replied 'Yes, Sir' quickly and remained silent till they reached their target. "Alright, Ripcord you ready to free fall?"
"Yeap, but as I said before, Cake walk."
"Would you cut…" Ace was cut out when the striker jerked.
"Ace cut it out!" Ripcord yelled clutching at his head. "Damn, that's going to leave a mark and what the hell did I do to deserve that?"
"I didn't do it," replied Ace. He was franticly looking over the control panel checking the stats.
"What do you mean you didn't do it?" Ripcord sounded annoyed.
"I mean I didn't jerk the striker," Ace answered harshly. Then he found what he'd been searching for. "Something's wrong with the fuel."
"Didn't you check it before we took off?" Ripcord's voice was grating on Ace's nerves and having Slipstream yell at him through the radio wasn't his idea of fun either.
"Yes, I checked the fuel. It was full and now it's empty," Ace said clipping back on his face mask before telling Ripcord to do the same. "Slipstream, I'm going to try and land the plane. Duke would have my hide if I trash another one this month."
"Duke won't be your only problem when I get back on the ground." Ace cringed at the angry words coming out from his ear piece.
"And you said it was going to be a cake walk." Ace chuckled as he gripped the control stick with both hands and started to descend. The Striker wobbled and Ace's lips pursed in grim determination as he pushed against the force. His leg muscles strained as he pushed against the floor of the cockpit to help keep his body from jerking with the plane.
"I'm going to deck you one." Ripcord bleakly said as his hand gripped the harness straps, "You know it be best just to let his one go and eject."
"Yeah, well that would be a cake walk now, wouldn't it?" Ace grunted as he lowered the Striker and leveled it out as the wheels let out so they could land.
"I'm glad you still have a sense of humor through this," Ripcord said dryly much rather wishing that he could just eject but wouldn't do that to his friend.
"It's all in the cards we're dealt and how we use them," Ace said as the Striker touch the ground and bumped, throwing Ace and Ripcord against the harnesses. "Come on, come one don't let me down now." Ace finally got the Striker to roll on the ground but they still weren't decelerating. "Ripcord, pull the chute. We've got to slow down."
"Right," Ripcord answered flipping switches. "Ready?" Ace gave him a grunt that he assumed meant he was ready and counted down from five before pushing the button that released the chute. Both men jerked forward and then slammed into the seats as the chute released, slowing them down to a complete stop, but not after running into a few trees and ripped off one wing. Ace groaned as he rubbed his neck.
"Ripcord?" he called out unbuckling himself from the jet and turned to see if Ripcord was okay.
"I knew I should have ejected," Ripcord muttered getting out of the harness and groaned as well, "Now I'm going to be sore for the next two days."
"Well, at least the Striker's still here…for the most part." Ace was now looking at the wing and scowled. He was going to get hell for this from Slipstream and Duke. "Damn it."
"You two hot shots alright?" Slipstream's voice came over the radio once again.
"Yeah, we're fine. I want to know who filled this plane up before we took off." Ace's voice held a tone was sharp.
"We're looking into it and I've sent Duke to pick you up. Good luck." Slipstream cut the connection and Ace started cursing. "Slipstream! Get your ass back on that phone. I know you can hear me. What am I supposed to say to Duke? He's going to put me on probation and you know it!"
Ripcord sat back and tried to hold back his laughter. Ace was sure in for it. This had to be the fifth plane in a month that he'd torn up and Duke had specially told him if he ruined another he was grounded till he leaned not to act so recklessly.
"Well, Duke wasn't that mad."
"Ripcord, if you don't shut up I'm gonna hang you from the top of the hangar by your parachute straps." Ace walked away from Ripcord and into the hanger. He was determined to find out who had messed with that plane. His back tensed when he heard Ripcord's laughter in the background. "Glad, he thinks it's funny."
Ace waited till Slipstream was finished talking to one of the green shirts before going up to him. Slipstream sighed when he saw Ace and leaned back against the table. He answered before Ace could open his mouth. "Airtight."
"What?" Ace asked as his eyebrow rose as he tired to figure out what Airtight had to do with this accident. The nut had left earlier in the morning with Flint. "Airtight, was the last person who worked on that Striker."
Ace had a sinking feeling. "His new fuel."
Slipstream nodded and Ace knew he was holding back a grin. "When is he getting back…better yet, where can I find him? I've told him repeatedly not to continue with that insane project after he almost caught himself on fire. Hell, he could of…." He trailed off when he saw Slipstream's shoulders shake in silent laughter.
"Sorry, Ace," Slipstream choked trying to control himself, "He won't be back till Monday and since you're grounded how about cleaning up the hangar?"
Ace's eyes narrowed. "This is just wrong." Ace turned on his heel and walked away from Slipstream muttering about Airtight and his cockamamie experiments.
After getting some lunch Ace decided to get to work on cleaning the hangar.
"First things first," he muttered checking the floor for any oil or gas spills. There were a few spots of oil on the floors so he went to grab the sorbants, the brand of absorbent mats and pads made to clean up oil spills, from the supplies closet. He scanned the closet scratching his head; there weren't any sorbants in there. He dropped his hand with a loud sigh, "Day keeps getting better by the minute."
Ace walked into the motor pool and looked around for Thunder but instead saw Cross Country. Ace started walking towards him. He was halfway across the motor pool when his left foot kept going and he was pitched backwards. His arms thrashed about to grab something but didn't. In a matter of minutes Ace was flat on his back. "Shit," he groaned slowly sitting up and rubbing the back on his head.
"Ace you alright?" Cross Country asked sticking out a hand covered in grease to help him up. Ace took the offered hand and grimaced as he looked at his hand. He wiped the grease off on his pant leg as his other hand rubbing his back.
"Guess, Clutch forgot to put up a sign. I'll go get it before anyone else slips on the wet floor a second time."
Ace gave Cross Country a dry stare before grabbing the back of his shirt as he tired to walk away. "Before you do that, you wouldn't happen to have any sorbants, would you?"
"Sure, let me go get that and the sign." Cross Country was half way across the Motor Pool when he turned around. "Make sure no one crosses that part of the floor."
"Yeah, sure," Ace grumbled as Cross Country disappeared. He just wasn't having a good day. "At least it can't get any worse." He grimaced and once again began to rub his back. He was going to be black and blue all over by tomorrow.
After getting the sorbants from Cross Country, Ace had another person on his 'I need to have a word with list.' After cleaning the oil spills Ace then started making sure things were in the right places. He glanced at the clock hanging up over the small office window that belonged to Slipstream. It was only three, groaning he went about picking up trash and taking it out to the dumpsters. When he was finished Ripcord and Slipstream came back into the hanger just as he was about to sit down and take a break.
"Wow, this place looks great. Maybe we should have nicknamed you Martha Steward instead," chuckled Ripcord.
"Yeah, yeah. Keep it up Ripcord and well see what happens."
"Cut it out you two. We need to refuel the jets. So come on. I want to get this done before dinner."
"Alright, I'll meet you two out there. I've got to put these chutes up."
Ace watched Ripcord disappear and then turned to follow Slipstream to where the strikers where sitting.
It took the three of them the rest of the afternoon to refuel the strikers. Ace wiped sweat off his brow and turned to look at the setting sun. Good, he thought lifting the bottom of his shirt to wipe his face off, day is almost over.
"Alright, last one!" yelled Slipstream from the gas truck.
"Looks like we might be early in line for dinner tonight," Ace said to Ripcord, who was standing on the wing of the Striker as Ace started to lift the heavy hose.
"Yeap and I believe its enchilada's tonight," Ripcord said as he bent down to lock the hose to the gas tank of the striker. He then stood and cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted, "Okay! It's locked."
Just as Ripcord gave Slipstream the signal to start pumping Ace noticed that it wasn't secure over the tank.
"Wait!" he yelled as gas started to shoot out on him. Ripcord's eyes widened and he waved his arms franticly for Slipstream to stop.
Ace was gagging and spitting as he shook his hands slinging gas off of him. "Today is just no my day," he muttered darkly as Slipstream came up behind him.
"Well it is Friday the 13th. You must be unlucky."
"Ah, come on Slipstream you really don't believe that crap, do you?" asked Ripcord as he jumped down from the Striker.
"I'm just saying," barked Slipstream as he inched away from Ace. "Go on and get cleaned up. Ripcord and I will finish this up. Don't want anymore accidents since Duke's already a little ticked with you."
Ace mumbled his thanks then started walking to the showers as he pulled his shirt over his head. He shook his head and pursed his lips.
"Hey, Ace!" called Ripcord with a mischievous gleam in his eye.
"Don't walk to close to any flames! And if you see a black cat I suggest you run very fast!"
Ace scowled and stomped off to the showers. "I'm going to kill him later," he muttered, "but first a nice hot shower."
The shower was nice and hot for the first five minutes –then the hot water ran out on him. He hastily finished washing off and got out of the shower. He dressed in clean clothes and went to the mess hall, his hair still wet. Thankfully, Ripcord had taken pity on him and grabbed him a tray earlier. Ace sat down and decided that just for that Ripcord could live a little longer. Ace dug in with gusto, since it was the only good thing that had happened to him that day.
"Slow down, with your luck you might choke." Ripcord laughed but stopped when Ace glared and kicked his leg under the table. Ripcord winced and reached down to rub his shin. "We still on for poker tonight?"
Yeah, since we don't have P.T."
"Attention, Attention," came the booming voice with a southern drawl over the intercom system. "Since some of ya'll knuckleheads decided to pull pranks today, we've got P.T. tomorrow at 0430 hours to keep your over active minds busy. Have a nice sleep."
Ace hit his head on the table, "I can't believe this. Who is stupid enough to pull a prank on Beach and expect to get away with it?"
"One guess," stated Ripcord.
"Shipwreck!" Ace groaned as Cover Girl shouted the name slamming her tray on the table as she stood up as the chair toppled over. She stormed out of the mess hall on a mission.
"Maybe we should warn him," Ripcord said as he winced at the mental picture as he remembered what she'd done to Clutch only two weeks before for his wandering hands. She'd used a wrench and Lifeline had lectured her on her angry management problems. Then she'd wet off on him as well. Lifeline still skirted around her when he saw her walking down the hall. It provided ample amusement for Ripcord.
"Absolutely not. Hell, I just might go help her." Ace sighed as he started eating again.
When they finished eating, Ripcord asked Ace if he wanted to watch the movie that was offered in the lounge. Ace declined the invitation in favor for going to bed early. His muscles were already starting to become sore and stiff.
Ripcord watched Ace stiffly limp back to his room. He'd leaned from Cross Country what had happened while he and Slipstream had been gone and shook his head in sympathy for his friend. Then he smiled as an idea came to him and instead of going to the lounge he went to find Mainframe.
Ace got into his room and shed his clothes, putting them in the hamper. He looked at his chest in the small mirror and grimaced. His bruises were beginning to show already. He gave a harsh sigh as he jerked on his drawer and pulled out a fresh white undershirt. Pulling the shirt on he closed the drawer and went to brush his teeth quickly. Flipping the light switch out, he had just settled in bed to go to sleep when the phone next to his bed rang. He turned over and looked at as if it were Satan coming for his soul. He knew it wasn't his mother, she only called on Wednesdays. It could be one of his few friends out of the military but they weren't given the base number which meant it had to be Mainframe or Dial Tone wanting him for some unknown reason. He groaned and picked up the phone.
"What?" he barked in a dark mood.
"Well hey to you too," said an amused feminine voice with.
"Audrey?" he asked confused as he sat up. How did she get this number?
"So Mr. Unlucky, I heard you had a bad day and thought you could use some cheering up."
Ace lay back down on his back and grinned. "Aw, Movie Star, you just made my day. You know what would make it even better?" he asked.
"I can guess…." She chuckled and trailed off.
"You, naked in my bed." Ace smirked when she didn't answer immediately. Even when they'd been in high school that'd been a touchy subject between the two, neither one had wanted to ruin a good friendship over high school dating.
"Well you'd better close your eyes."
He hadn't been expecting that answer. He glanced at the phone suspiciously, she wasn't here was she? "Why?"
"Cause the only way that's happening is in your dreams," she retorted laughing.
"You break my heart." He replied smiling.
"Some one has too." He chucked as he finally got comfortable and relaxed for the first time that day.
Ripcord pushed himself off the way next to Ace's door. "You're welcome, Good buddy."