Watch the Sky
by Mahiri Chuma
Disclaimer: It's not mine, any of it!
Pairings: BA/M; Slash
Summary: That was Murdock...B.A.'s mind struggled to find the right words and he only came up with two. Bad-fucking-ass.
A/N: Done for the A-Team kink!meme.
Watch the Sky
He had been working on the van, his greased hands moving deftly about the undercarriage, tightening bolts here and there, when he heard the sound of a dolly.
Though it was common knowledge that this particular garage had been claimed by Hannibal's team (even despite the fact that there was a clear 'no-claims' rule on base, that they all had to play nice and share their toys) it wasn't uncommon for someone to come in and utilize the tools while he worked.
He continued his work, not thinking much of his visitor, until he realized whoever it was seemed to be using the dolly as a mode of transportation and hadn't just kicked it casually out of the way as he had originally suspected.
Roll. Stomp. Roll. Stomp. As if it were a damn skateboard …
Before he could pinpoint where it was coming from, mainly so he could kick the fool out of his garage, Murdock appeared next to him, his slim form sliding under the van with ease.
"Bosco!" The pilot's sudden appearance caused him to lurch up, his head colliding with unyielding metal, "Whoops, watch your head there."
"What the hell, man …" He groaned as he put a hand to his head, squeezing his eyes shut as shimmering bursts of light played across his vision, "This ain't a damn skatepark."
"Let me see – " He felt Murdock's hands brush against his forehead and he slapped them away. A flailing Murdock plus close quarters was never a winning combination. Especially not when his van was involved. That reminded him …
"Murdock, get outta here," He said stiffly as he realized the man's proximity to the vehicle, "you know you ain't allowed near my van!"
"I'm under it." He said as though it were some sort of loophole for the word 'near.' "And I love the van, B.A., I do, but aren't these things a little – I don't know – outdated? Why not get a hummer, or a –"
B.A. made a move to forcibly extricate the man, reaching for the bottom of the dolly, when Murdock inched away, his hands up in surrender.
"Okay, okay, I got it big guy. I'll go, just can't have your greasy paws all over my fancy new flight suit."
B.A. craned his neck, trying to get a look at what he was talking about. Lo and behold, Murdock had exchanged his usual leather jacket and cargos for a dark green flight suit complete with a patch with his name on it – so the fool hadn't broken into the uniform annex and stolen it.
"Aren't you gonna ask why I am wearing this devastatingly handsome flight suit?" Murdock was grinning at him, waggling his eyebrows.
B.A. sighed and put down his wrench. Murdock had started moving back and forth, rolling the dolly along the floor like a fourth grader in gym class. B.A. was familiar with this tactic; annoy and conquer.
"Sure. Why are you wearing a glorified janitor's uniform?" Murdock didn't even acknowledge the remark.
"I, H.M. Murdock, have been asked to do a flight demonstration of the brand-spankin' new A-10 Thunderbolt." He was nearly buzzing with poorly contained excitement as he awaited B.A.'s reaction.
It was no secret that he wasn't a fan of aviation so his reaction shouldn't have been surprising. He knew what an A-10 was but in his opinion, a plane was a plane was a plane was a goddamned death trap.
"The A-10 Thunderbolt, a Warthog" Murdock tried, his expression faltering, "Top speed 381 knots … climbs 6,000-feet per minute … 57-foot wingspan?"
Murdock went on to assault him with more extensive performance specs before moving onto avionics. His hands moved in flurrying motions, held close to his body as to avoid hitting the undercarriage, as he explained HUDs and Pave Penny pods without taking a noticeable breath.
B.A. did his best to keep up but got lost somewhere between A-10C Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser and TF34-GE-100A turbofan. Then he briefly pondered why he was trying to keep up at all.
After a few more minutes of rambling Murdock fell silent and B.A. was sure that he would get bored and roll out from under the van to seek out Face.
Instead, Murdock began picking at the undercarriage, grease settling under his fingernails.
"Ok," Murdock's ramblings often ended without warning but B.A. wasn't stupid – the stagnation that followed the rant meant there was something else, "Is that it, man?"
Murdock opened his mouth before promptly shutting it again, seemingly needing to collect his thoughts.
"Y' wanna come and watch?" Murdock said staring up into the undercarriage. He turned to look at B.A., his eyes big and – was he batting his eyelashes? "I mean, I know it's your day off and all, but I was thinking, if you had the time, maybe you'd want to –"
The thought of being anywhere near an airfield is enough to make him sick. The last mission had involved a Black Hawk, a missing tail rotor, and thirty seconds of spinning and screaming and losing his breakfast all over his lap. If he ever saw another plane or chopper again it would be too soon.
"Gotta work on the van, man." He did his best to just try and accept the silence, to not see the other man's reaction but before he could stop himself his head was turning.
He cautioned a glance sideways and immediately regretted it. The look on the pilot's face was enough to make him feel like an absolute asshole – something Murdock was uniquely good at.
"Oh, ok, no problem. 'S alright." Murdock gave him a quick smile – a halfhearted thing – and began his slow shimmy from under the van. The saddest fucking thing B.A. has seen in a long time.
He sighed. How the pilot managed to get under his skin so damn easily was fast becoming one of life's little mysteries.
"Wait up, crazyman," He grabbed the back of the dolly, careful to avoid the flight suit as he reeled the downtrodden pilot back under the van, "When is it?"
Murdock's face lit up and B.A. forced his expression to remain neutral. He didn't know when it had started but he was beginning to find Murdock's smile infectious; it was so ridiculously genuine and he had more than once found himself smiling in return. Something that always had Hannibal and Face staring dumbfounded.
"Shuttle leaves in an hour." Before B.A. could protest the suddenness of his apparent departure, Murdock flashed him a cheeky grin and rolled out from under the van.
"And, B.A., watch your back." Murdock said without turning back to face him.
B.A. peered out from under the vehicle, watching the pilot strut away, the flight suit moving with his body like a second skin.
B.A. rubbed his hand across his forehead and then along his mohawk; a feeble attempt at mopping up the unrelenting sweat that was gathering in the 105 degree heat.
When Murdock had said there was going to be a demonstration he had imagined something a little more … official.
The shuttle had deposited them in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that distinguished it from the rest of the barren wasteland was a short landing strip, a picnic bench, a row of bleachers and a long, rectangular pool of water. What that was for, B.A. had no idea.
It looked like the world's saddest sports arena.
And joy, it came complete with rowdy twenty-somethings.
"Hey! Watch yourself, damn fool." B.A. muttered as one of the greener than green flight school graduates knocked over a can of opened Beer, sending the amber liquid across the picnic table and into his jeans.
Face chuckled next to him and B.A. sent him a withering glare as he righted the can and shimmied away from the puddle of stale beer. The man was stretched out, cat-like, on the seat of the picnic bench, his face set in a wide grin.
On his lap was a bowl of popcorn. How he had procured popcorn, and Pop Secret no less, was a complete mystery. Where he had found a microwave was even more confusing. B.A. knew from experience that it was better not to ask.
"C'mon, man. Lighten up," Face said as he popped a kernel of popcorn into his mouth. B.A. fought the urge to smack the bowl from his lap, "they're just excited."
Excited was an understatement. The flight school cadets might as well have been on crack – they were loud and rambunctious, wrestling each other on the desert ground, tossing a beaten football over his and Face's heads, popping open lukewarm beers – all as if it were a damn frat party.
He rolled his eyes as he heard one of the young pilots talking about the plane of the hour; the kid sounded like he could barely contain his raging hard on.
Apparently, in the world of aviation, the A-10 Thunderbolt II was a big freaking deal.
"It's hot, man." He wiped at his forehead again and scowled at Face's abnormally sweatless form. "What're we doing here anyway, gonna sit here and just watch some planes fly over? We could be back at base. In air conditioning."
"It's a demonstration, BA. You're supposed to just watch." Face said half-amused, half exasperated; hadn't they already discussed this on the shuttle over? "Besides, it'll mean a lot to Murdock."
He grunted; neither a sound of agreement nor denial.
"Better mean enough to cook every night this week." He huffed. He just didn't know what was more frustrating: the fact that he had shown up or the fact that what had gotten him there was a pair of the man's best puppy dog eyes and a flight suit.
"And I've watched enough of that crazy fool from inside helicopters – I don't need a damn demonstration."
He had been there when Murdock decided barrel rolls were a good way to break the monotony of flying a B-52 bomber; he had also been there when Murdock needed to prove that a Boeing 747 could in fact fly upside down if it needed to. Then there was that helicopter ride in that storm in South Africa …
The list was endless, really, and he had been rendered conscious – by a botched drug dosage or by his inner ear deciding he should wake as they plummeted to the ground – too many times to consider that they had only really crashed twice so far. So freaking far.
"T-Minus one minute to fly over." A voice crackled over the loudspeakers attached to the bleachers and the young cadets whooped in excitement.
B.A. cringed when Face let out his best frat-boy howl, joining the masses.
"It's exciting." Face grinned as he sat up, still clutching that stupid bowl of popcorn and adjusting his sunglasses.
He wanted to be there for Murdock, he really did, but he just didn't get what all the excitement was about. Granted he had never been to a flight demonstration but he figured if he wanted to see planes fly he could go hang out on the tarmac or watch Boeings take off at the airport; sounded about as fun as watching paint dry.
He was about to voice his opinion when he heard the familiar whine of an approaching plane. Face elbowed him, an excited smile lighting his features as they searched the sky for the aircraft. The sound got louder, filling the space around them with a low grumble. It sounded as though he was standing behind the engine of a 747, but they still couldn't spot it.
The whine got louder and it sounded like it was coming from everywhere. He couldn't place it –
A burst of wind, forceful enough to cause him to lurch forward, hit him like a ton of bricks as the A-10 flew over from behind; the high-pitched whistle coming a moment after it passed.
'And, B.A., watch your back.' Well, he had given him fair warning …
Hats flew from the cadet's heads and they rose from the bleachers, cheering at the ridiculously low fly over– that couldn't have been regulation height …
B.A. sat wide-eyed, his ears still ringing, as the A-10 pulled up at what looked to be a ninety-freaking-degree angle.
"Holy hell!" Face shouted above the noise that still permeated the air.
B.A. could only stare as the aircraft began to spin, turning into a tight corkscrew as it made its speedy ascent. They all watched as Murdock flipped the plane upside-down, turning it around to make a second pass over.
This time, the Warthog came straight at them and fuck, it was an unbelievable sight.
Murdock was bringing it in low and fast. Pulling it into a tight series of barrel rolls. The black windshield of the cockpit winked in the sunlight and B.A. was struggling to connect the A-10 with Murdock.
The plane whizzed over head and there was a sound like a gunshot and then the familiar, ear piercing whine – Face was still laughing, his expression nearing child-like glee as the gust of air and pressure from the craft blew the sunglasses clear from his face.
They all whipped around as the A-10 flew past them and pulled upward, banking right and looking as though it might turn upside down again. Words like 'insane' and 'badass' were being thrown around in frantic, excited shouts.
Badass? B.A. had never used the words badass and Murdock in the same sentence; never encountered a situation were he might.
What would he say? Murdock, that puppet show was badass? Or, Murdock, you're looking badass in that Hawaiian shirt? Maybe, Murdock, your opera version of 'Poker Face' is totally badass?
It just didn't work.
He watched the Warthog fly through the sky, looking, despite being man-made, as though it belonged there. Looking as natural as a bird as it dove and spun.
B.A. watched the A-10 begin another dizzying ascent. Climbing higher and higher before abruptly flipping over in a wide arc, speeding towards the ground.
That was Murdock, his mind reminded him. It wasn't just the A-10 that was hurtling toward the ground at hundreds of miles an hour. It was Murdock.
He felt warmth gather in his stomach as the A-10 spiraled, making the nosedive look even more dangerous than it already probably was.
Face was standing on the picnic bench and hell, B.A. didn't remember doing it but he was right there next to him, is hand over his eyes to block the sun as he squinted up at the aircraft.
"Here he comes," Face laughed as the aircraft neared the ground, not showing any signs of slowing, "holy shit!"
B.A. couldn't respond. The warmth moved, causing his stomach to flip flop and developing into a tingling sensation as it moved downwards, further south than he would have ever liked to admit.
He breathed in, the air catching tightly in his chest as the A-10 came down fast enough to make him think the pilot had lost control and was about to go up in a damned fireball in front of him.
"Why isn't the fool pulling up?" B.A. muttered, mainly to Face who was actively ignoring his fear; didn't they see he was about to drive the damn thing into the ground?
"The swoop pond! Holy shit, the swoop pond!" The cadet's were shouting and B.A. took his eyes off the plane for a second to eye the rectangle of water. What the hell –
The A-10 pulled up, just slightly, at the last second; close enough to kick up dust as it neared the water. Murdock passed over the swoop pond but a second later and the water – Christ - the water rippled wildly, sending it spilling over the sides as a plume erupted from the pool, upwards and outwards like a spontaneous, vertical wave.
The cadet's whooped and cheered while Face threw his arms up in the air as a fine mist sprayed over them.
B.A. couldn't close his gaping mouth if he tried.
That was Murdock.
B.A.'s mind struggled to find the right words and he only came up with one (two).
Face was grabbing at his shoulder, shaking him in uncontained excitement, much like girls did at concerts or men at football games, but B.A. could do nothing but stare. Stare as the A-10 banked right and then left, turning so abruptly it looked as though it was defying physics.
The man had serious skills. B.A. couldn't imagine the control it would take to move the aircraft like that. His reflexes had to be ridiculous and when B.A. really thought about it, the signs had been there all along; the way he ducked under punches, the way he slapped B.A.'s hands away from his cooking without even looking, the way he moved when under fire – it was no different than the way the A-10 looked now, the way it moved – fast, agile, graceful…
B.A. didn't even bother to deny the fact that he had just called Murdock graceful. He was too busy watching in astonishment as the bird's captain pulled it into another tight spin, leveling it upside down, flying in that position as though it were completely normal.
He had seen Murdock come in for landings and take off, but that was all. The rest of the time he was either inside the aircraft with the man or somewhere where he couldn't witness the man's flight. This was the first time he had really witnessed what it looked like from outside the craft. He didn't know what he had been expecting but this – this was stunning.
He knew Murdock was a good pilot, knew that he was one of the best, but he had never really acknowledged it. He had never really thought about it. It just a part of Murdock, like a word association: Murdock was to Pilot as Hannibal was to 'Boss'. It was his title; the two went together and B.A. had never really thought about why, never really thought about what had earned him that title.
B.A. couldn't deny it – though he would if ever questioned – but it took serious skill and competence to do what Murdock did.
He felt his hands tighten into fists as the warm sensation spread, his groin tightening as he watched the A-10 – Murdock, he corrected himself – pulled a Pugachev's Cobra.
A true and trusted Thunderbirds move.
B.A. had to admit – the man had fucking style.
Yes. The man who regularly wore Hawaiian shirts, the man who showed up to Christmas parties in ugly Christmas sweaters, the man who's favorite colors were all of the neon variety.
Style with a capital 's'.
It was like seeing another side of the man, like meeting him all over again.
The A-10 approached for its final fly over, coming down even lower than before, just to make it extra special, no doubt.
B.A. stared into the black depths of the cockpit, trying to imagine Murdock behind the controls, his skilled hands on the joystick, forcing the aircraft into those impossible maneuvers.
He usually could hear the pilot's chatter over their comm. systems so it was strange to know Murdock was piloting the approaching aircraft. He wondered what song he might be singing, what movie he might be quoting – B.A. was inclined to go with Top Gun.
The A-10 was almost upon them and B.A. could just imagine the cocky grin on the pilot's face as they all wondered whether he was maybe coming in a little too low …
A few of the less trusting cadets ducked down. Face scoffed and stood as tall as possible on the picnic table, his arms outstretched. With a whistle and a whoosh the A-10 made it's last sweep.
B.A. breathed deeply, the smell of jet fuel, something he had always associated with the pilot, stinging his nose.
A wave of hot air washed over him as Murdock made the pass, the sensation akin to a caress, and fuck, this was an inappropriate place to get aroused.
Face and the cadets howled as the American flag attached to the speaker pole was ripped from its anchor, flying away in the wake of the aircraft.
The cadets clapped and whistled after the aircraft, their adrenaline pumping.
B.A. could still smell the jet fuel and his skin tingled with heat as he watched the A-10 disappear, the sound of the engines fading as Murdock flew back to base.
He stood there and stared at the cloud trail Murdock had left behind.
"So, what'd ya think, big guy?" He could feel Face's eyes on him, a wicked, knowing grin most likely set on his features.
Fucking beautiful, he thinks.
He says nothing as he watches the sky.