Title: Ace's Christmas Surprise
Author: Despairedpoet (Me, if you haven't guessed )
Archived: Only on my laptop as of yet, I'm not sure if I like this one.
Summary: Ace gets a big box the night before Christmas, but what's in the box and who is it from?
Warning Codes: Language, and OC.
Pairings: Ace and Audrey
Characters: Cover Girl, Beach Head, Hawk, Gung Ho, Road Block, Tripwire, Airtight, Shipwreck, Alpine, Bazooka, Mutt and Junkyard, Timber, Law, Ripcord, Lady Jaye, Lifeline, and mentions of a few others.
Beta Readers: None as of yet, but one is needed if you feel up to the job!
Authors Note: When I was writing this I thought it was okay, but then I typed it up and realized I didn't like it all that much. But maybe you will. Audrey is mine as well as Kelsey Collins. Read and Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own G.I. Joe. But I do own Audrey and Kelsey Collins.
Ace sat in the lounge watching Cover Girl, Jaye and a few others decorating for the Christmas season. Shipwreck and Gung Ho were with Road Block grocery shopping duty. Tripwire and Airtight were arguing about where the lights should go. Ace briefly wondered who even let those two touch the lights after last year's accident. Beach Head, Alpine and Bazooka had gotten the tree this year and somehow they managed to come back with what Alpine said was the biggest one in the lot.
Guess it was Bazooka who wanted it, Ace thought closing his eyes and letting the Christmas season wash over him. He breathed in the sweet smell of apple cider mixed with spiced tea- both most likely recipes that had been passed down from one generation to the next.
"Here you go good buddy," Ripcord said tapping him on the shoulder and handing him a cup of spiced tea. Then he plopped down on the couch beside Ace, with his own cup of cider.
"Thanks," Ace murmured opening his eyes and taking a small sip of the tea to test the temperature.
"What did you put on your list to Santa?" Ripcord asked watching the women decorate the tree. Ace watched as he sipped on his drink and saw Beach Head enter the room out of the corner of his eye. He went and sat down by himself. Ace grinned; Wayne was trying not to stare at Courtney.
Wonder when he'll just give in? He thought before turning his thoughts back to Ripcord's question, "To have a hectic free Christmas for once." Ripcord chuckled and shook his head. A nice Christmas at the base never flew. Last year Tripwire and Airtight accidentally set the tree on fire. The year before that Cobra interrupted their Christmas dinner and the year before that Junkyard had gotten into the presents and when everyone woke up the lounge was covered in wrapping paper.
"Yeah, but then we wouldn't have so many wonderful memories," Ripcord chuckled. He was about to say something else when Hawk walked in with a green shirt rolling in a large crate that was labeled 'Fragile.'
"What is it, sir?" asked Airtight coming over to examine the box.
"Don't know. It was just delivered a few minutes ago," Hawk said looking around the room for the owner of the box.
"Who does it belong too?" asked Jaye from across the room.
Hawk's eyes fell on Ace. Ace looked around then pointed to himself.
"For me?" he asked getting up and setting his cup on the side table. "Who sent it?"
"I don't know," Hawk admitted, "So I thought it be better if you opened it."
"Right," he muttered carefully inspecting the crate. It was a normal wooden crate and it didn't seem harmless but looks could be deceiving. "I'm going to need a …" he trailed off accepting the crow bar from Hawk. "Thank you, Sir."
Ace struck the crow bar under the top and pushed down. The top came open with a pop and a 'thud' as it hit the floor. Everyone in the room had tensed expecting Cobra to pop out with guns drawn but nothing happened.
"So what's in it?" Cover Girl asked as Ace lifted himself up and looked down into the crate.
"Holy hell," Ace pulled himself into the crate and then peered up over the top. "Someone go get Lifeline." No one moved. Ace grunted as he picked up a sleeping Audrey out of the crate. Only when they saw the girl did Ripcord and Hawk help Ace and Jaye ran to get Lifeline.
"What's this?" asked Shipwreck picking up a sheet of paper that had fallen off of Audrey when they lifted her from the crate. "Dear Ace, Don't worry Audrey's perfectly fine. We just slipped her a sedative so we could get her into the damn crate. Might want to check her wrist though, anyways; I decided that Audrey should be with friends instead of mopping around this Christmas. So me and a few buddies of mine decided to send her to you this year. So Merry Christmas! –Kelsey Collins. P.S. She's only been in there for two hours. Have fun when she wakes up!"
Ace looked at Shipwreck who was grinning like made. "Sir?" asked Ace who now had Audrey laid out on the floor.
Hawk sighed evidently this Christmas wasn't going to be normal either. "Its fine," he said as Lifeline entered the room and went straight to the girl without asking questions. Apparently Jaye had filled him in.
"Who is she?" asked Shipwreck walking closer to her.
Ace gave him a good glare and Shipwreck just grinned more. "She's a high school friend of mine," he answered watching Lifeline check over Audrey. This was just great because when she woke up she was going to give him hell for this. It wasn't like he had asked Kelsey to do this. "Kelsey Collins is a friend of Audrey's who stays at the Air Force Base in Mobile."
"Well it looks like Ace is going to have a nice Christmas," Shipwreck said. Ace gave a disgruntled look. If you only knew Ace thought hoping Audrey wouldn't wake up till he could get her into his room. Too bad Audrey didn't listen.
"She's waking," Lifeline said stepping back. Her eyes fluttered open and she brought a hand to her forehead and groaned. She looked around at the unfamiliar place and people. As the haze began to clear she stood up shakily and looked down at her wrist which was throbbing. Slowly what happened came back to her. Ace could tell by the look on her face. Oh boy he thought ready to try and calm her down. It was then that he got a good look at what she was wearing. Damn Collins!
Audrey looked at what she was wearing too and her face went bright red. When Collins and her buddies had gotten her she'd just gotten out of the shower and was dressed for bed. She was wearing a navy blue tank top and white bikini underwear. Ace thought she was doing pretty well not to start crying or yelling. He face was practically covered by her hair and her hands were pulling down at her tank top as she squeezed her legs together.
Ace turned his back and stood in front of her. She pressed herself against his back like she was hoping to morph into him. "I want some clothes and a phone," she said in a choked raised voice. Ace nodded and then led her out of the lounge and towards his quarters. He just knew she was going to start yelling any minute if he said any of the things that kept coming to his mind so for once he refrained from making comments.
"Make sure to bring her to the infirmary so I can bandage her wrist," Lifeline called out.
Shipwreck watched them go and leaned over to Gung Ho. "Maybe we should try that with Beach," he muttered.
"Yeah, but who would we ship him too?" chuckled Gung Ho.
"I heard that you two!" Beach Head yelled glaring at them promising a hellish P.T. session later.
"Alright back to what you were doing," Hawk said before leaving and signaling the green shirt to dispose of the crate.
"Well, Ace is going to have a pleasant Christmas," Shipwreck grumbled once again before leaving the lounge. Slowly everyone returned to what they had been doing before the crate had come in and Road Block began cooking dinner making sure Gung Ho stayed out of the kitchen.
Ace got Audrey into his room without further embarrassment on her part. She was sitting on his bed and had wrapped herself up in the blanket with some of it covering her head as he rummaged through his drawers. He pulled out an old pair of Air Force sweat pants and threw them at her and then pulled out a shirt that would be a little bit big on her. He handed her the shirt and she still wouldn't move. Brad sighed and leaned down so his face was level with hers.
"Come on Movie Star it wasn't that bad," he said grinning, "I at least kept my jokes to myself this time. And it wasn't as bad as freshman homecoming, remember?"
Audrey just glared at him with her lips pursed. "This isn't funny, Brad!" she yelled, "That was half of your friends and your superior officer! How can you even say it wasn't that bad? I'll be forever known as the girl who was shipped to you in her underwear. I don't even have a bra on! And …and…" She stopped when her face became red once again.
"Aww, Audrey," he sighed his lips fighting not to smile as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her to him as he lay back on the bed.
"Ugh! I ain't leaving this room," she retorted her southern accent slipping out. Brad turned her face to his and rested his forehead on hers.
"You know, Movie Star, if you wanted to stay with me that badly you could have just asked instead of pulling a stunt like that," he said grinning and blocked her hand that was coming up to punch him. He loosened his hold on her wrist when she winced. "How'd you do this?" he asked his fingers running over it gently trying to relieve her pain.
"They jumped me after I got out of my shower," she answered watching him massage her wrist. "I didn't know who it was but I guess I should have known. Anyways I put up a fight and it took three of them to pin me down and my wrist hit my bed side table."
"Come on," he said getting off the bed and turned so she could dress in peace. She sat up and pulled on the shirt and grinned.
"You're actually turning around with out argument?" she asked surprised, "What happened to the 'I've seen you naked before' speech?" She pulled on the sweat pants and tied the draw string tight so they wouldn't fall off.
"Like I said, Audrey," he said grinning and turned around on her and pulled her closer to him, his hands resting on her slender hips, "all you had to do was ask."
Audrey rolled her eyes and slipped past him. "Come on I want to get my wrist checked," she said ignoring his devilish grin and what it was doing to her. Her stomach was twisting its self into a knot and she should have been nervous about Brad, but then only he'd been able to make her feel comfortable and nervous at the same time. It was a paradox and she wondered why then her stomach growled. Guess I'm just hungry she thought relaxing a little.
"Hungry?" he asked grabbing a jacket and dropping it over her shoulders as she slipped into a pair of borrowed shoes. "Alright, infirmary and then Road Block's famous Christmas dinner."
Ace felt bad for Audrey, well only a little. Shipwreck had met up with them in the infirmary- met being an iffy word since it looked as if he was waiting for them- and had been teasing Audrey since. Ace was used to it and seeing Audrey's face flushed, her accent being more pronounced then when she tried to cover it, he just couldn't stop Shipwreck. Beside what harm could it do anyways?
"If you get tired of fly boys, doll face," Shipwreck said, "Why not come try a real man, a sailor."
Ace intervened finally when Audrey picked up Lifeline's (Reflex Tool's Name Here) and was going to throw it at Shipwreck. Lifeline had wrestled with Audrey for the (Tool Name here) since he had been wrapping her wrist while Ace muscled Shipwreck out. When he came back in Audrey had her arms crossed and wouldn't look at him.
"Doomed man standing," whispered Lifeline when Audrey got off his table and walked out the door.
"Shut up," Ace grumbled as he ran to catch up with Audrey. "Come on its Christmas, lighten up for on night." He was still annoyed with what Shipwreck and hadn't meant to convey that annoyance to Audrey. Even though Ace knew he was being a little unreasonable since he and Audrey weren't dating nor promised to each other. But it had always grated on his nerves to see her with someone else.
Audrey slowed down and uncrossed her arms and let them hang by her sides. "Brad, I didn't mean to ruin you…"
"Audrey, quit," he barked and winced when she jumped. "You haven't ruined my Christmas. Just try to clam down and relax, don't let him get to you. Shipwreck's always like that. So come on we're going to get some dinner before it's all eaten up."
Audrey looked like she wanted to argue but kept her mouth shut. With her good hand she laced her fingers through his and stated walking again. "Am I even going in the right direction?" she asked looking around the base.
"No," he chuckled pulling her in the opposite direction. "I was wondering when you'd notice."
"Shud up" she said rolling her eyes and bumped into him smiling.
By the time they got there dinner was already being served. Road Block had a fried turkey on the table along with many other dishes on the table. Since Audrey already knew Airtight and Ripcord, from when they'd come down to the Mobile, she was able to be sucked into a conversation with those two while Ace fixed their plates. He did keep an eye out for Shipwreck though, that man just couldn't take no for an answer. When he came back Audrey was in a heated discussion with Airtight over he's new jet fuel. She was on the stance that it wouldn't work and he was trying to convince her. Audrey was a marine biologist as well as a mechanic so she was bringing up some good points Airtight hadn't thought about before.
"Alright, you two that's enough," Ace said placing the plates on the table. Dinner went by without a hitch, well hardly a hitch. Junkyard and Timber couldn't wait for their piece of turkey and had ended up jumping on the table and stealing the while thing. Road Block chased them out with a carving knife, but then Junk, Timber, and Law ganged up on him and they won the turkey.
When everyone was done eating a few Joes started up caroling and Low Light took control of the remote and was watching 'A Christmas Story."
Scarlett, Lady Jaye and Cover Girl had come over after the dinner plates where being removed from the table and 'rescued' Audrey from the men and were now sitting in the corner with drinks.
"What do you suppose they're giggling about?" asked Flint his eyes firmly set on the women.
"Who knows but it'd be interesting to find out," Ace said wistfully. Scarlett, Jaye and Cover Girl had given him a weird look before another round of giggles. Humm, he thought while sipping on his egg nogg. He grimaced; Road Block went a little heavy on the alcohol this year.
"That does sound like Ace, though" Jaye grinned.
"Does he know you tell these stories?" Cover Girl asked.
"This is some great black mail you've got," Scarlett confirmed what the other two were thinking.
"Yeah, well it's much over due," Audrey smirked, "He's gotten me into so much crap…I just wanted to return the favor." Audrey wearily took a sip of what Shipwreck had set down in front of her and gagged. "What is this?"
"Egg nogg," answered Cover Girl. Audrey made a face and set it back down on the table.
"What's wrong?" Scarlett asked.
"I've had a bad experience with egg nogg," Audrey muttered the excuse.
"I have a question," said Jaye her eyes focused on Audrey, "Why does Ace call you movie star? You weren't actually in a movie where you?"
Audrey pulled her legs up underneath her and leaned back against the cushions. "No, he calls me that because of what happened to us freshman year. He remarked that what we just went through sounded like something out a movie. Also he thinks it's funny because of some people's reaction to my name."
"Which is?" promoted Cover Girl.
"Audrey Hepburn?" Cover Girl choked on her drink.
"No, it's not!" exclaimed Audrey, "my last name is Callaway, but every time I say my first name people jump to conclusions."
"I guess it's a fitting nickname," Jaye laughed as Cover Girl was wiping off her pants.
Cover Girl frowned at Jaye and then grinned mischievously. "So have you and Ace dated?" she asked as Scarlett and Jaye turned to wait for Audrey's answer.
Audrey opened her mouth then closed it thinking on how to answer that complicated question. "That's…that is a personal question," she stuttered getting uncomfortable. Personally she didn't know what Ace and she was. They were friends but then much more sometimes. Neither one had actually said they were actually dating but then they were not, not dating either. She thought that they had just settled into something that was comfortable.
"Yeah, but we're still waiting for an answer," said Cover Girl not going to give up on this.
"Well, I guess we sort of have," Audrey admitted still not sure that was the right words for what kind of relationship they were in.
"You mean you're still a virgin?" asked Jaye.
"No," Audrey said quickly not liking where this was going.
"No?" grinned Cover Girl.
"Ace was actually my first," Audrey admitted her face flushed as she fiddled with the edge of her shirt. "But I've had a few other boyfriends…"
"Ace popped your cherry!" exclaimed Scarlett and all three girls pounced on her.
"Shh!" hissed Cover Girl.
"Not so loud," whispered Audrey as she looked over at Ace to make sure he hadn't heard any of it.
"Do you want them to hear us?" choked Jaye.
"Sorry," Scarlett winced and all four turned and looked over at the group of been and breathed a sigh of relief when none seemed to have noticed Scarlett's out burst.
"So does that mean you were his first?" asked Scarlett, "I mean I think it's sweet that you two could still be friends when you're not dating now."
"I actually don't know," muttered Audrey, "I never asked him. I just assumed so but that was a long time ago and it doesn't really matter all that much anymore." After that the conversation seemed to die down and soon Jaye and Scarlett left leaving Cover Girl and Audrey sitting there quietly.
"I didn't mean to pry into something you didn't want to talk about," Cover Girl said looking at Audrey who was staring at the tree like she'd never seen a Christmas tree before. "But you love Ace, right? So how is it that you two aren't together?"
Audrey glanced over at Cover Girl, "Yeah, I do love him and it's kind of complicated relationship. I actually hadn't had any contact with him since I left for college and he did his high flying fun then finally joined the Air Force. It wasn't till Ripcord, Airtight, and Ace came to the base where I was helping out at and dating one of the pilots. Of course I was angry at him because he hadn't tried to contact me in years and finally showed up when I realized how I was being used by the man I was dating at the time. But we talked and it's just comfortable like this, complicated but comfortable for the both of us. Is there a reason for this question?"
Cover Girl shook her head, "Nope, just wanted to know how it managed to work out between you two."
"You're not telling me something," Audrey said but let it go when she got up. Instead she turned back to the Christmas tree. She gazed at all the various ornaments with a critical eye, not missing one. It reminded her of the tree her mother used to put up when her mother was still alive. "Merry Christmas Mom," she whispered.
Ace watched Audrey looking remorsefully at the tree. He got up and placed a hand on her shoulder startling her. "Come on it's getting late," he said. She looked at the tree once last time before getting up and walking out to Ace's quarter.
"Ace," Cover Girl called out getting his attention, "Is she okay?"
"Yeah," he answered smiling, "She'll be fine. Night, guys." He left the lounge and caught up with Audrey and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She looked up at him questioningly and he smiled at her. "Dork," she whispered.
"So who has guard duty?" asked Flint.
"Mutt does," Beach Head answered gruffly. "You were the one who assigned them remember?"
"I mean who's going to guard the presents from Junkyard?" muttered Flint, he didn't want a repeat of what happened two Christmases ago."
"Hey, I didn't know he'd react to that way to those dog treats," Mutt said in his defense.
"Low Light, since you're going to be in here for a while how about watching the presents?" asked Flint. Low Light grunted from the T.V.
"Now that, that is settled," Flint mumbled before grinning as he went off to find Jaye and get his special present she had promised earlier.
When Ace and Audrey got to his room a blow up mattress was sitting at his door. Audrey picked it up and plugged it in. It was inflated in less than eight minutes and Audrey made the bed up before getting into it. Ace had changed into some pajamas and chuckled when he looked down at Audrey. She had the covers pulled over her head. Squatting down he lifted the cover so he could see her face, "You know you could just sleep in the bed with me."
"No," she replied giving him a dry stare, "I don't want anything bad to happen."
He leaned down and kissed her forehead, "Offers always open."
"Pfft," she snorted pulling the cover back over her head and rolling over.
She couldn't sleep; she realized this when it was three in the morning, Christmas day. Her thoughts kept being brought back to the Christmas tree. Maybe a walk will help, she thought getting up and putting on borrowed shoes and jacket. She left his room quietly and started to wonder around. She hadn't but up a Christmas tree since her mother died. There was never enough time and it wasn't worth the hassle when you lived by yourself. She soon found herself in front of the tree again. She looked around the lounge and found no one in there so she pulled the couch closer to the tree and sat on the floor leaning her back against the couch. She'd always felt uncomfortable at Christmas watching all the families together doing shopping, getting trees and having parties. There homes were always filled with warmth and reminiscent smells that made her ache for her mother. After her mother died their house had been so sterile and clean it didn't even feel as if anyone had lived there.
She remembered that one year when Brad's mother had taken her in for Christmas. Audrey's father had been away on a mission and she'd been left at home alone. There was no Christmas and the presents were just sitting on the kitchen table with a note explaining where her father had gone and how long he'd be away. It was like reliving one of her old Christmases again. Don't know what I would have done without Mrs. Armbuster, she thought smiling.
"Thought I'd find you in here," Brad's voice permeated the still air. He came to sit next to her with two ceramic coffee cups in his hands and blanket draped over his arm. He handed one to her and pulled a blanket over their legs. "I've seen you look at a tree like that before," he whispered not wanting to split the silence of the moment. "But last time you were much younger and was standing in the snow peering through a window."
"Funny, I was just thinking about that," she said softly leaning against him and sipping on the hot chocolate.
Ace glanced down at her. The glow of the lights on the tree softly light up her face and he was sourly tempted to kiss her. "What were you women talking about earlier?" he asked, looking away instead.
"I was telling them a few stories about you when we were in High School," Audrey answered her hands fiddling with the coffee cup.
"Should have known," he muttered putting his cup down and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "You okay?"
"I'm fine…now," She set her cup to the side and curled up next to him. She looked up to see him smiling at her and her eyes caught something else. "We're under an mistletoe."
Ace looked up and grinned. "So we are," he murmured lifting her chin and pressing his lips to hers. Audrey was expecting a simple kiss but she should have known better. Ace never did anything simple, instead he deepened the kiss, which she had to admit was fine with her. It'd been a while. When they broke the kiss, both were breathing heavily. Audrey realized that he'd laid back and she was resting between his thighs.
"I'm glad you came," he whispered going to kiss her again.
"I'm….glad….I came…. Too," she managed to get out between kisses.
"Audrey," Ace sighed, shaking his head, "Shut up." She pursed her lips in a grin. "Good," he murmured before kissing her again.
"So do you think we should wake them?" asked Ripcord smirking.
"What are they doing on the floor?" Beach Head grumbled.
"What we need is a picture of this," Airtight said as he snapped a few from the camera he was going to use to take the Christmas pictures.
Hawk walked into the lounge with a cup of coffee followed by Cover Girl, Scarlett, Snake eyes and Lady Jaye.
"What's going on?" asked Cover Girl walking up to the small group.
"What does it look like Sleeping Beauty?" Beach Head asked sarcastically.
"Shut up," she snapped, "It's Christmas so who let Scrooge out?"
"You're asking for it woman," he growled back.
"Both of you quit," Hawk said as if he were scolding children. Beach Head and Cover Girl were standing nose to nose and he didn't want a fight while it was Christmas morning. "What's the commotion about anyways?" Hawk looked down and found Ace and Audrey sleeping on the floor in front of the couch. Her head was curled in the crook of Ace's neck while his arms were wrapped around her securely and a blanket covered from their waists down. "At least they have clothes on," he muttered taking a sip of coffee and walking over to where Flint just came in.
"Don't he have a room specified for this?" Beach Head asked crossing his arms.
"I think it's cute," exclaimed Cover Girl.
Beach turned towards Cover Girl and gave her a dry stare, "You would, wouldn't you."
"Oh, shut up!" she shouted, "You wouldn't know romantic if it shot you in the ass."
"Hell, I would hope not. I'm a RANGER not some sissy," he shouted back, once again standing nose to nose.
"You know you two are standing under an mistletoe," Ace yawned looking up at Beach Head and Cover Girl. Both glanced down at Ace then over their heads then at each other.
"I'm not kissing you," Beach grumbled. "Might, turn me into a pansy."
"Or something worse…a gentleman," Cover Girl said grinning.
"Come on Beach it's the rules," Ace said sitting up with a still sleeping Audrey, she could sleep through a hurricane much less a shouting match between Beach Head and Cover Girl. Beach was about to complain some more when Cover Girl took the opportunity and pulled his head to hers and kissed him.
"Stop complaining smart ass."
"Aww, Cover Girl. You traitor!" yelled Clutch who'd just walked in to see the two kissing.
"Suck it up, Clutch," Cover Girl grinned as she moved away from Beach and the mistletoe. Beach Head's lips twitched as he walked away as well, and then glanced over at Ace.
"Get up both of you," he muttered, "The kids want to open their presents."
"You're just upset because you're on Santa's bad list," chuckled Cover Girl from the couch and received a glare.
Hopeless Ace thought shaking Audrey. She grumbled something and pulled the cover over her head. Ace was fixing to pull the cover off and tickle her feet, which he knew to be her weak spot…the memory of how he found that out made him grin, but her voice stopped him. "What?"
"Ah," he smiled getting up to get her a cup. He came back and she was sitting on the couch her head laying on the arm rest watching the others open their presents. Ace sat on the floor in front of the couch and handed her the cup. "I see someone took the mistletoe down," he remarked.
"Your friend Shipwreck was getting a little too friendly with Lady Jaye."
"That explains it." Where the mistletoe had been hanging now was Shipwreck's hat impelled with a javelin.
"There are a few presents that are yours. They put them in a pile over there for you. You should open them."
"You want to see if I've got any secret admirers?"
Audrey rolled her eyes in annoyance. He gave a half smile before reaching out for one of his presents. It was from his mother. He knew what it was before he opened it, new boxers, socks and undershirts. He'd gotten this same presents every year from her. In her eyes he'd never grow up.
"Undershirts and boxers?" Audrey asked when he put the unopened present aside. "What did you send her?"
"A recent picture of me and some money." He picked up the next box, it was from Airtight. "Not sure I want to open this one," he said hesitantly before ripping off the wrapping paper. He could feel Audrey lean closer to see what it was.
"Is that what I think it is?" Audrey asked in disbelief.
"Yes," Ace groaned. He should have known what Airtight was planning. He'd been dropping clues since last week but Ace had ignored him.
"Sultry Air Attendants packed with Big Cockpits," Audrey read the title of the porn. "Doesn't sound very good."
"I'll just give it to Shipwreck, he might enjoy it." Ace put the tape back into the box and set it aside. He finished opening the last of his presents and was happy with the turn out. He leaned his head back to look at Audrey.
"Sorry, I didn't get a chance to get you anything," she said softly and looked apologetic.
"You got me the best present." He smiled when her face scrunched in confusion. "You."
She sighed exasperatedly and punched his arm. "Dork."
"You know you'd get there faster if you flew," Ace said as he hung on the door of a rented SUV.
"You know me better than that," Audrey responded as she started the engine and turned back towards him. She looked as if she wanted to say something.
"You still living on the Beach?" he asked. Her face lit up.
"Yeah, you thinking about visiting?"
"I might, just keep New Years open." He started to shut the door but she stopped him. "Thanks for the Christmas again."
"You should thank Collins."
"Yeah, I'm going to thank her alright."
Ace chuckled and gave her another kiss. "Be safe." He shut the door and watched her drive off the base and turned onto the highway heading home.