Story: Ice in Arizona
Chapter: 06. Stranger than Fiction
Warnings: Mild Slash
Author's notes: Part 6 of the Ice in Arizona series. Title is a song by 'Five Finger Death Punch'. Song doesn't really tie in with the chapter in any way, but it was a good title (I would have used it even if it wasn't a song title). However, some of the lyrics do fit with the rest of the story.
Last chapter, I apologise for how long this took me to write.
Face got to experience being completely warm and comfortable for about 10 seconds before his hangover hit him like a runaway tank. His head immediately started pounding and he felt sick, and all he wanted was stick his head under a faucet and drink as much water as he could before drowning himself. He couldn't even appreciate that the outside of his body was so cosy and nice because the inside felt rotten enough to more than compensated for it all.
And he was starting to notice that a lot of the night before was just one big blur, and the facts were hard to grasp. There were nags in his head that were telling him he was forgetting a lot of important things. What had happened?
All of a sudden he realised he wasn't in bed alone, and wondered how he hadn't immediately noticed the tall body pressed up against his back or the strong arm over his waist. At least waking up naked wasn't too out of the ordinary.
He slowly lifted his head to look over his shoulder, although the way everything protested almost made it not worth it. Murdock was still sleeping soundly, and Face envied him, or at least he did until large chunks of the night started coming back to him, and he remembered just why they were both naked and in the same bed.
And then the rest of the night; the gay bar, the karaoke, the brightly coloured drinks. The proposal.
Face couldn't suppress a groan and turned his face into the pillow to muffle it as well as block out the light. It was all too overwhelming, all too much. One of the many things that had happened would have been enough to deal with, but he could have rationalised it, found an excuse and be ready to sweep it under the rug before Murdock even woke up.
But this would be like trying to cover a mountain with dishcloth.
God, what was he supposed to do with this? What if he handled it wrong? He could screw things up forever, he could lose his best friend, as well as cause a rift in the A-Team. The idea of that scared him more than anything they had done the night before, and he was starting to work himself up into a panic in his head, so much so that he nearly jumped out of his skin when Murdock groaned right behind him.
The pilot was waking, and Face sympathised, it wasn't going to be pleasant.
Murdock drew his arm back before he had even really woken up and rolled onto his back, groaning miserably again as he put his hand over his face. Face shifted to prop himself up, looking at the pilot apprehensively. For a while Murdock didn't move, although the grimace that was partially hidden behind his hand showed that he was still awake, and not happy about it.
Eventually he pulled his hand down, squinting in the light and looking around before finally half focussing on the blond. Their eyes met, expressions tense. They both remembered what had happened, and Face didn't know what to say.
"I'm not giving the ring back." Murdock finally told him in a raspy voice, the tension relaxing off his face to be replaced with another grimace as he slowly tried to push himself up. Face blinked at him blankly. Of all the first things he had expected one of them to say, that hadn't been it.
"…huh?" His own voice was dry and coarse.
"The ring." Murdock lifted his hand to show Face the 'engagement' ring that was still on his ring finger, "I'm keeping it." He was trying to grin, but it was obvious he felt so rotten it really wasn't making it much further than the amused grimace stage.
Face watched him for a long moment before he let out a brief laugh, relief flooding through him. Suddenly it didn't feel so awkward.
"Sure…it's not like I paid for it." He rasped in amusement, lying back down with a pitiful groan and throwing an arm over his eyes, "I cant believe we got that drunk." He mumbled miserably. He felt a shift in the bed that told him Murdock had managed to get to his feet, although Face didn't even know how he had accomplished this. Anything short of curling up and moaning seemed beyond the blond at that time.
"Free drinks…" It was strange to hear Murdock not being so exuberant, although not surprising. He was trying, and Face blessed him fondly for that, but whilst his heart was in it, his body and mind were suffering and pathetic, "Would have been rude not to accept…"
Face laughed briefly at his reasoning, turning his head to see what the pilot was up to, and caught him just in time to see him stumble into the bathroom. Moments later the shower came to life, and Face had to commend him on his perseverance. Logic told him taking a shower would make him feel better, but his stomach dared him to even think about trying it.
"I'm going to call for coffee, anything you want?" Face hoped he had been loud enough for Murdock to hear, and he winced at how dry his throat was. It felt like his oesophagus was lined with sandpaper.
"Juice…and food." Came the reply, and Face groaned at the very idea of food. Had he been up to it, he would have complained about how Murdock could manage food, but he wasn't even capable of that, and just wanted to order before pulling the covers up over his head.
Murdock was out of the shower by the time the room service knocked on the door, which was lucky considering that Face had no plans to get up and let them in. He listened to the murmurs of conversation, waiting for the door to close before emerging from under the blanket. He eagerly took the coffee when the pilot offered it to him, ignoring his somewhat amused grin. He knew he looked like hell, but at that particular moment he couldn't be bothered to care.
And it was a little irritating to see that Murdock was already bouncing back to his normal self. He looked a little weary and sickly, but his bright-eyed expression was already returning, and he eagerly tucked in to the toast and orange juice that had been sent up. Face only had to look at the toast to feel like he wanted to throw up.
Once he had finished his coffee, Face disappeared back under the covers and tried to ignore the fact that he would, eventually, have to get up. Something that the pilot had no plans of letting him put off, and a minute or so later Face felt a weight shift the bed down before someone started poking him through the blanket. Gently at first, and then harder when he didn't respond, until it turned into bruising jabs all over his back and shoulder.
"Alright! Stop it." Face finally couldn't ignore it any longer and pushed the covers down to glower at the pilot, who just smiled amiably.
"You cant stay in bed all day, Faceman." Murdock told him again, sneaking another poke before Face could stop him.
"Why not…I'm sick." The conman made a grab to stop the pilot poking him again, although in retrospect this was a mistake since it only encouraged Murdock to prod and poke him more. He kept it up despite Face's yelling until finally the only way for the conman to escape was to leap off the bed, thankfully taking the blankets with him since he was aware he was still naked. If looks could kill, Murdock would have been dead ten times over, but as it was he just sat cross-legged in the middle of the bare bed grinning like a child.
"I'm going to shower." Face finally muttered unhappily and turned to skulk into the bathroom, shivering and not looking forward to the noise of the shower at all.
The whining groan he let out as the torrent of water crashed down on him was audible out in the bedroom.
Fortunately after a few minutes under the hot water he felt life returning to his body and the nauseated feeling dissipating and he let out a sigh of relief as he rested his head again the shower wall. He managed to spend a pleasant amount of time enjoying the warmth until his brain finally decided he needed to start thinking about the situation with Murdock.
Really, how was he supposed to deal with this? He had no precedent to work with. It was like he had done everything he said he never would in one night. He had worn fishnet (and leather). He had gone to a gay bar. He had drank less than manly drinks. He had sung karaoke. He had proposed…to a man! And then…
Oh hell, and then…
He wished he could read Murdock's mind, so that he would have at least some insight into what the other man thought of what had happened. Although he doubted it would be that helpful since he didn't really know what he himself thought of what had happened.
He was embarrassed, sure, that he could have let something like that happen, but he wasn't as horrified as he expected. Nor was he as disgusted as he thought he should be. Perhaps with any other man, a stranger, he may have felt some revulsion at what had happened, but it wasn't any other man. It was Murdock. And they had stayed in Arizona for a reason.
He had never thought it would go that far, never even considered it, but somewhere in his head he had to admit that it had always been a possibility. If he and Murdock had ended up getting closer, then somewhere down the line something like that may have happened. It had just turned out to have happened a lot sooner than he anticipated. Too soon.
Switching off the shower, he reached for a towel and wrapped it around his waist as he stepped out, breathing out a harsh sigh. He put off opening the door and going out into the bedroom and instead crossed over to the mirror, wiping off the steam with his hand. The reflection that stared back with starting to look more like the Templeton Peck he knew, even if he was looking a bit pasty and the dark shadows under his eyes refused to budge.
When he finally worked up the courage to leave the bathroom he found Murdock crouched on the floor, picking up all the bits of paper that had fallen out of the trilby the night before. Being a man of plans, Face was relieved to see this; it gave him a way in to bring up last night. He also noticed that pieces of clothing from the floor had been picked up and folded, and the soiled shirt had disappeared.
"You should just get the vacuum on them." Face said idly as he picked out a set of clothes, getting his underwear on under the towel.
"But then I couldn't call them." Murdock reasoned, like Face was being silly.
"You're going to keep in contact?" Face couldn't hide his surprise, looking over as he let the towel drop, using it to dry his hair as he went in search of a shirt. He tried not to falter when he saw the pilot scan his body, the tall man immediately looking away in embarrassment, obviously not having meant to do that.
"W-well, yeah. They were pretty…interesting, and fun." He reasoned, standing up with the bits of paper, "The ones I remember anyway," He added in a mumble, keeping his eyes averted from Face as the conman got dressed as quickly as he could.
There were minutes of awkward silence as Face pulled on his clothes before he took a seat on the edge of the bed with a comb in one hand, "Alright, let's talk about this." He finally breached the subject, looking up at the pilot, who faltered then nodded with a relieved expression.
"Yeah…good idea." He took a seat on the opposite bed, putting his elbows on his knees, big brown eyes not quite looking at the conman.
"So…what do we do with this?" Face asked falteringly, using combing his hair as an excuse not to look at Murdock.
"Depends…" Murdock said slowly, "On what you want to do."
Face let out a sigh, lowering his hands, then his head following suit, looking down at his socked feet, "I don't know Murdock." He said quietly, fighting his desire to stall for time against his need not to hurt Murdock, or in any way irreparably damage their friendship, "It's all a little…" He struggled for words.
"Yeah…" Murdock's quiet tone was enough to make the conman look up, the pilot regarding him with an understanding, if not slightly weak, smile. He lifted a hand to tap his temple, "Still a bit crazy." And Face nodded in agreement. There was no better way to put it. "Welcome to my life." The smile widened briefly, somewhat self-deprecating, but Face returned it nonetheless.
"It's not so bad." The conman told him, the weight in his chest lifting at the small laugh he received. Then a small silence as both searched for more meaningful words. Face wished he could say something that would make it all alright, but a lot of the previous was still fuzzy, or completely blank, and it didn't feel right to make any decisions when he didn't have all the facts right then.
"Promise this ain't gonna go south, Face" Murdock said quickly and quietly, eyes averted down, "Promise things ain't gonna get bad 'tween us just cos some stupid drunk stuff." The Texan drawl came on full-force as his shoulders hunched, like a defence mechanism. Surprised at he was at how afflicted the pilot looked, Face didn't need to hesitate as he reached over, putting a hand on the narrow, tense shoulder.
"I promise, Murdock." He told him, voice as sure as it had ever been, "I sure as hell don't know where this is going to go once we get our heads back on straight, but whatever happens, we'll be fine." Face assured him, dipping his head to try and see Murdock's face, "Okay buddy?"
The pilot let out a soft sigh, looking into Face's eyes as though searching for a lie, then nodded when he found none, "Yeah, alright."
"Good." Face put on his best charming smile and sat back, "How about we get packed up, grab something to eat and then go see if that bird is still waiting for us to take her home?" He of course meant the aeroplane they had left parked on the runway, and life sparked back into the pilot's eyes at the mention of flying, a broad grin splitting his face.
"Sounds great Faceman, you really think she'll still be there?" He bounced to his feet and set about shoving all his various debris haphazardly into his bag.
"Sure, stranger things have happened." Face nodded, collecting his own things but packing them much more neatly into an expensive travel case. They both paused at his comment, slanting looks at the other to judge the mood, before grinning when they realised they had both done it.
Stranger things certainly had happened.
Both refused to acknowledge any awkwardness, and therein was the strength of their plan. What had happened had happened, and there was no point avoiding the subject, especially when things started to jump back at them, and there was really nothing quite as satisfying as the 'Oh! Do you remember when-?'. So breakfast was spent with both laughter and embarrassment on both parts as certain facts started coming back to them.
Although they both edged around certain subjects. Things that would probably need to be discussed eventually, but not in public. But in quiet moments it was obvious that one or both of their minds strayed back to the end of their night.
Face forced some food down despite his protesting stomach, the amusing reminiscing certainly helped in keeping his mind off of it, and Murdock managed a hearty breakfast even between his animated talking.
"Do you think they'll forgive us for lying?" Murdock asked with a grin, still fully intending to get in contact with the people that had given him their numbers.
"I think they might feel a bit cheated." Face laughed, sipping his juice and looking a bit incredulous, "Princess may want his-"
"Sorry, her ring back." Once he had remembered that the three women they had spent most of the night with hadn't actually been women (it had taken an embarrassingly long time), he had been having trouble getting the pronouns right. He didn't mean to get it wrong, and Murdock knew it, but corrected him every time nonetheless.
Murdock looked down at the ring he was still wearing with a grin, eyes softening a bit, "Nah, I'm sure she'd understand." He said surely, and Face just shook his head.
"You know you cant keep that on, right?" The conman ventured as he looked around for a waiter, then gestured that he would like the bill. He looked back to Murdock to find he was being stared at blankly, as if to say 'why not?'.
"Because Hannibal and BA are going to ask questions about why you came back from Arizona with an engagement ring." Face explained slowly, and Murdock just shrugged with a lopsided grin.
"So? I'll tell 'em I proposed to some Arizona babe in a teeny weeny bikini." Face eyed him with bemusement, "You really think they're going to jump to the conclusion that the only reason we stayed in Arizona was to try dating and that, after your plans failed so abysmally, I guilted you into wearing leather and fishnet and then took you to a gay bar, where we drank brightly coloured drinks, pretended to be in a long -term relationship to con some lovely drag queens, after which you sang karaoke and then proposed to me in front of a bar full of people?" Murdock snorted in amusement, "Yeah, because that's real believable."
Face met him with a blank stare in silence. The pilot made a good point. Why was he worrying about what Hannibal and BA would ask? They could just tell them the truth; it wasn't like they would believe them.
It was pretty unbelievable after all. And if it wasn't for the drunken memories slowly crawling back into his head, and Murdock chirping up with things he didn't fully recall, Face would have been tempted just to write it off as a really weird dream.
Murdock was grinning at him expectantly, and Face rolled his eyes after he had paid and sent the waiter away.
"Alright, you can wear the ring."
Murdock had the glasses on again, and this time the strange squirmy feeling Face got in his stomach when he saw the pilot wearing them was all too-easy to identify.
The plane was still sat on the runway where they had left it, and after some very persuasive conmanship on both their parts, they had weaselled their way back on and Murdock was running ecstatically towards the cockpit, shedding pieces of costume as he went. Face was sad to see that the glasses had come off as well.
As the plane started up, Face was still gathering up the discarded garments in the fuselage, noting with amusement that the acrid smell of Hannibal's cigar still permeated the air. He hurriedly made his way to join the pilot in the cockpit, buckling up in the co-pilot seat just in time before the g-force pinned him to the nearest surface.
They took off with a loud, excited howl, and Face couldn't help grinning, glad to hear it.
"Aww, look Face, they refuelled her for us." The conman didn't think it was actually possible for Murdock to sound happier, "How about we take the scenic route home?" He asked hopefully, and Face just shrugged with a grin.
"Hey, I'm just a passenger, not like I know how to fly this thing." He said obligingly, knowing full well that if he had said no, Murdock would have done as he was told. But that would have been tantamount to kicking a puppy.
And the happy smile on Murdock's face was worth the potential trouble they could get in. And it really was the airport's fault for refuelling them, after all.
They continued to talk about the night before, laughing and digging at each other as more things came to light, but it was Murdock who finally asked the question that was on both their minds.
"So, Face? What happens in Arizona, stays in Arizona, right?" He fortunately had the guise of looking at the various metres as an excuse to not look at Face as he said it. He feigned casualness, but it really was the pressing question and they knew it.
"Is that what you want?" It was only a half stall. He really did want to know.
"You know what I want, Face." Murdock said with a forgiving smile, and Face nodded.
"Yeah." He did know, and he let his head fall back against the seat, looking out at the magical wonderland of clouds they were flying through, thinking hard. Murdock gave him the time he needed.
The atmosphere was easy this time. They weren't hiding behind strained silences and half-spoken truths. He felt no pressure either way; Murdock would accept whatever decision. It was down to what he wanted. And what did he want?
"California is pretty hot." He reasoned, and Murdock caught on immediately.
"Sure is." He agreed, trying not to grin.
"And it would be a damn pain if we had to hijack a ride to Arizona every time we wanted to…you know." Face added, still speaking to the clouds, but smiling broadly.
"That's okay, I don't mind flying-"
"Murdock." Murdock hadn't been able to resist. He really did like flying. But he conceded with a laugh, finally looking over to Face.
"Sure Face, home base is plenty hot." The conman turned his head to look back at the pilot, wearing his most charming smile.
"'Course." Murdock had never been more sure of anything, "But then, I'm crazy. And guess that means you must be too."
Face let out a laugh, turning on his chair and leaning in towards the pilot, "Must be." He agreed as Murdock leaned over the arm of his seat with a pleased grin , brown eyes fixed to brilliant blue, "But then again, it's not so bad."
And this time there was no angry BA to stop them as he leaned in.
When I first started this as a full-length story, I was still in the mindset that all my stories had to end in porn. So this chapter was originally going to be a really-hard-to-justify sex scene. But from then until now I have developed a lot more as an author (And written about 15 other stories with these guys) and the sex no longer seemed necessary or likely at this point. I am sorry for taking so long with this final chapter. I am so happy to have finally finished this story, I have loved and hated it. I may correct some of the glaring things one day, but for now I'm going to concentrate on other stories. Thank you for reading.