* Title: "Keep Talking, I'm Listening" (Part 1)
* Author: Casper
* Copyright: (c) 2003 Isabel Florence/(Casper)
* E-mail: caspersroom .uk
* Rating: PG
* Type: Light SLASH. Romance. Sap. Angst.
* Pairing: Face/Murdock
* Chronology: 1983
* Status: Complete
* Summary: Murdock does the unthinkable to Face. How will they deal with this? Face and Murdock POV. It helps to have read "How Do I Say I Love You?" and "I Wish I Had Your Joie de Vivre" first, as this fiction follows on from those two in that order. All three can easily be read as stand alone fictions. However, "Joie de Vivre" and "Keep Talking" read better when read together, as they have been especially written as complimenting fictions.
* Warnings/Content: Light SLASH. Consensual male/male chaste touching and kissing, and exchanged words of love. Angst. Sap. Drama. Romance. Mild profanity.
* Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team characters, and am making no profit from this story, which is a work of fan fiction only. The A-Team characters solely belong to Universal, Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell, and I thank them for their existence.
* Thanks & Acknowledgments: To the Beta readers: Karen Davis, Howlin' Thunderbird (T-Bird), Pam, Val Thomas and Strangebird, with very deep thanks and great appreciation for all your valuable help, input and advice. :o)
* Featured Song: "Keep Talking" - (c) 2002 BMG Australia Limited - Vocals: Australian singer John Farnham. Lyrics: Phil Thornalley & David Munday. From the John Farnham album, "The Last Time".
* Comments?: Yes. :o)
* Archive?: YES, please. (Just, let me know where if you pick it up from here).

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"KEEP TALKING, I'M LISTENING"

*~*~* PART 1 *~*~*

"Face."

I swiveled around and smiled over at Murdock as he walked across the hangar floor.

That man was my world. I never thought it would happen again. Not like that. Not with him. Leslie had been the last time I'd ever felt that deeply about someone. Felt that feeling of wanting it to be forever.

I don't know why he affected me that way. Maybe it was his deeply expressive eyes, those deep, dark brown pools of emotion, which pulled me right in. Or it could've been his voice, which flowed like honey over me every time he spoke. Or maybe it was the way his body moved; with speed and grace. Or the way his touch set fire to my veins. Or it could've been any number of a hundred other things, or maybe it could've been everything combined.

Yeah, most likely it was all of the above and then some.

He was dressed as usual in his brown leather bomber jacket, with the Da Nang tiger on the back, brown trousers, a blue plaid shirt, and today, a red t-shirt, which I couldn't quite see the writing on. There seemed to be some cartoon design or other on it, with words underneath, a bit obscured by the plaid shirt and jacket. He has a huge collection of t-shirts. Sometimes I give them to him as gifts, 'cause he loves collecting them, the more funny and unusual the better.

I couldn't help but drink him in as he came towards me, his stride long and easy. But there was a distracted frown on his face and he wasn't quite meeting my eyes as he walked across the hangar floor, skirting around the plane I was sitting just off to the side of.

With anyone else, the alarm bells would have been clanging loudly by then. With Murdock, though, I felt secure. There was a trust there I'd not felt in a very, very long time.

My smile felt warm as he came up to where I was sitting, on a stool, fiddling with some parts I'd been trying to get together for BA. His smile was nervous, his eyes darting a little from side to side, as if unsure of where I was. I'm right here, Murdock, I had the sudden urge to say, my heart rate speeding up a notch.

"Hey Murdock, what's up buddy?" I greeted him, as his steps slowed and then stopped in front of me. I smiled warmly up at him. Loving the way the dancing sunshine formed almost a halo around him as he stood there.

My angel. My guardian angel.

"I'd get up and greet you properly, but I'm up to my elbows in spare parts right now. You'll have to come down to my level." Grimacing just a little, I wiped my hands on the old pair of jeans I'd thrown on that morning, leaving faint smudges of grease behind.

The parts were strewn out on a large tarpaulin in front of me on the floor of the hangar. I'd scammed them off a pretty little redhead the day before. Her soft kisses were already a nearly forgotten memory. All just part of the job, part of the game. Using my face to get us what we needed, when we needed it, using all my skills. All of them. But I stopped short of sleeping with the women. My heart wasn't in that anymore. Besides, I'm not going to sell my body, not for anything. There is a line, and that's one I've never crossed. Even before Murdock, I'd never crossed that line. Yeah, I'd had any number of girlfriends before Murdock. They'd walked in and out of my door so fast, it'd practically revolved, but they'd given me only physical release, and very little more than that. That's all I'd wanted from them, and that's all they'd required from me. No strings attached.

"Face, I..."

Why wasn't he moving? And that hesitancy. If I hadn't known better I'd think... No. No, there was no way that could've been the case, I refused to let my thoughts even stray in that direction.

Tilting my head up to look at him, I tried to focus on his eyes. The sun had become my adversary, as it threw his eyes into shadow by shining into mine over his shoulder.

My heart started a fast patter in my chest, nearly painful in its intensity.

Something was wrong, something big, I could hear it in his voice, see it in his body language. It couldn't be about Hannibal and BA, they were both there today, with me, somewhere outside, scrounging things from around the old abandoned airfield I'd found that week past.

If not, then it had to be something else. Something about us, maybe?

Everything inside me began screaming to change the subject. Anything to avoid what was coming. Whatever it was.

"You like the plane, Murdock?" I asked, after a beat or two. "She's practically like new. All she needs is a bit of repair work done on her. What a find, huh?" I broke off, laughing a little nervously. "BA's upset, though. Thinks I'm gonna get him to fly on it. Keeps telling me he'll pound me into the ground before that happens. You know what he's like..."

Even to my own ears my voice sounded nervous, prattling, interspersed with that little hesitant half laugh I make sometimes, when things are making me feel a little off balance. My words ran down, as I watched him hesitantly for some sort of positive response. He'd taken his cap off and was twisting it around in his hands nervously, eyes darting.

"Yeah, yeah, it's great, Faceguy. Um..." He barely looked at the plane as he spoke, I'm not sure he even saw it.

"I have to talk to you, Face. Please. Now." He was looking at me then, and his eyes pleaded.

I found myself wondering where Hannibal and BA were. Not that it mattered, our relationship was not a secret, but there were some things that needed to remain private, and my gut was telling me this was going to be one of those times.

They didn't seem to be anywhere around, but something whispered to me that in a few moments I might not even care where they were. But, oh God, I hoped not. Anything was preferable to what my soul was screaming to me to sit up and pay attention to.

He crouched then, in front of me, his liquid brown eyes locking with mine, not reaching out to touch me.

Nervously I lifted a hand and ran it back through my hair, careless of trailing grease into it, a little annoyed to feel it trembling slightly. I let it drop back onto my knees, and the trembling stilled, for the moment. I tilted my head, waiting for him to speak, too nervous to risk words.

"Face, I, ah..." He trailed off again, uncertain.

I hadn't heard him call me plain 'Face' so many times in one day for years, and that, more than anything, sent apprehension coursing through me.

Swallowing, his eyes drifted away for a second, then refocused on mine.

"Face, I ah, I don't know how to say this, so I'm um, I'm just gonna come out with it." He paused, searching my eyes.

Was he looking for a reaction? To what, though? For what?

I smiled, admittedly a little shakily, but it was a smile.

"Go on, Murdock, keep talking, I'm listening," I managed at last, my voice quiet, soft, giving nothing away. I lifted an eyebrow and could feel that old, quirky, cynical half grin touch my lips.

He moved then, reaching out and taking one of my hands from my lap, enfolding it in his. His hand warm around my cold one. He caressed it for a bit, rubbing his thumb over the back of it, looking down at it, a small, nervous half smile on his face.

Then he was looking at me again, his mesmerizing eyes boring with their strong intensity into mine. I felt myself falling, as always, until his next words sent me spinning.

"Face, I, ah, I need to take a break for a while. Just for a little while, you know. Just to, ah, just to sort my head out."

I blinked at him stupidly for a moment, staring at him incredulously. Had he just said-? No, he hadn't meant what my mind was jumping to the conclusion of. Of course he hadn't, that'd be ridiculous.

Wouldn't it?

"Sure, Murdock," I managed at last. "We... We can go wherever you like. Just you 'n me. Together. Somewhere nice. Quiet. I know just the place. Soft, sandy, golden beaches. Girls. Not that, you know, that matters. But... But... The scenery is great. We'll go tomorrow, hey? What do you say about that? Yeah, I can see it now, you 'n me, moonlit beach, champagne in hand, quiet murmur of the waves. Huh?" I laughed shortly, nervously. "Yeah, that sounds like just the thing. I'll go speak to Hannibal. Right? You wait here, Murdock."

I was babbling, I knew it, saying whatever came into my head, anything but even attempt to grasp the underlying meaning behind his words, such as they'd been so far. My words tumbling over each other in a rush, a mixture of Faceman scamming charm and nervous tension

As I went to stand, he pulled me back down again by the hand still clasped within his.

"No, Face."

Simple words.

Cool words.

Chilling words.

Such simple, simple words.

So why did I feel as if I'd been sucker punched?

My legs practically collapsed under me, as my knees went weak, my body dropping nearly bonelessly back onto the stool in front of where Murdock still crouched. My eyes dully focused on our interlocked hands, his going white where mine clasped it in a desperate, viselike grip. Loosening it, I pulled my hand away from his abruptly and let it drop back onto my knees, casting my eyes down with it, not wanting to see the rejection in his face.

"Face, I..." He paused and cleared his throat a little. Meanwhile, I found a spot of grease on my old denim jeans totally fascinating.

"Face, I need time alone. I got so much goin' on in my head right now. It's, ah, it's difficult to deal with. You 'n me. You 'n me are a, a complication right now, an' I... an' I..." He sighed abruptly and cut off whatever his next words might have been.

Either that, or I'd faded out for a bit.

A complication? He thought we were a complication. Us? Him and me? Oh, God!

Looking up a little shakily, I again drew a dirty, greasy hand nervously through my hair, and waved the other a little his way. "A complication, Murdock?" I couldn't keep the aggrieved tone out of my voice. "You think you and me are a - a - a complication? Huh, funny, 'cause, y'know, I thought, you 'n me were special. Was beginning to think we were forever. Stupid me, huh? Bet they're laughin' somewhere, right about now. Yep, just bet they are." He at least had the grace to flinch at the dry, self-mocking cynicism in my voice.

Standing, I moved backwards away from him.

My God, did I stumble?

Damn it, Faceman, get a grip. Where's that cool unflappable poise? You can handle this, concentrate!

Squaring my shoulders, lifting my chin proudly, I forced the floodgates on my emotions to crash closed, and slammed down shut the shutters on my eyes and soul, trapping everything within, hiding it all from him.

Murdock stood then also, reaching out a hand to me, almost in supplication. "Face, no. It's not what you think. Things are just too weird right now. I just want to cool down for a while. Not forever, just for a while. I just need some time out alone. Please try'n understand, Face. Come on, Face..."

He stepped towards me, I stepped back, one hand out, warding him off, fighting down panic.

"Face?"

Stepping back one more step, I drew my shoulders up a little more, and wiped my perspiration-slicked hands on my jeans, leaving behind more trails of grease. Raising an eyebrow, and tilting my chin up a little further, I shrugged my shoulders casually.

"Yeah sure, Murdock, whatever you need. Take all the time you need, buddy. You know where to find me." Moving then, I walked around him and away from him, heading for the doors.

Oh God, I had to get out of there. Out before I made a real fool of myself.

My legs shook, heck, my whole body was shaking, but I was determined to make it out those damn doors with my head held high, and my dignity somewhat intact.

"Face."

No, I wouldn't stop and look at him. Looking at him would be bad. Looking at him would unravel my resolve. Looking at him might see me on my knees begging him to stay, and that wasn't gonna happen. No damn way. Not here, not now, not ever, or at least, not yet anyway.

Not when the only outcome would be more rejection.

Deeper heartache.

"Face, please stop." It was his voice that decided me in the end. Pain mixed with desperation.

Stopping, I turned back to him slowly, gathering all my defenses. Maybe, just maybe, he'd come to his senses.

"You gonna be okay, Faceguy?" he asked quietly, concern replacing the desperation.

Dragging out my best conman's smile, the one that never quite reaches my eyes, I shrugged and gave a nearly careless, nervous tinged half laugh, cutting it off with an in-drawn breath.

"All right? Of course, I'm gonna be all right," I breezed. "Aren't I always?"

He looked uncertain, his eyes searching, trying to lock unsuccessfully with mine.

"Come on, Murdock, this is me, the Faceman. I've got a plan for every contingency. I've even got a date tonight. Charlene. She's a pretty little redhead, y'know. The one I got most of these parts from. Man, can she kiss..."

Or was her name Brenda, or Poppy, or Joyce, or Cheryl, or Pat, or... God knew I'd forgotten it seconds after walking away with the stuff, leaving behind the empty promise of dinner later, maybe.

The flash of hurt pain in Murdock's eyes was enough to stop my near babbling in its tracks.

My shoulders sagging, the breath rushing out of my body in a slightly frustrated sigh, I walked back over to him. Then, within reach, lightly caressed his cheek with my hand, and just for a moment let my love show through.

But only for a moment.

"I'll be all right, Murdock," I half whispered. "It's okay. Don't worry about me. It's okay."

I let my hand drop, stepped backwards, and held his gaze for a moment longer. Then, tearing myself away from him, turned and walked away, fighting down the threatening tears, my back straight, shoulders square, head held high.

I would make it out those doors, without looking or going back.

I would make it to my car, and then, take life from there.

It was the only way.

"Face."

I kept walking, quickening my pace.

"Face."

Not much further, the doors of the hangar were only a few feet away.

"Face."

The pain in his voice nearly stopped me, but I kept going, out the doors, into the bright sunlight, blinking a little after the dimness of the light inside, and practically ran to my car.

Leaning, with my hands clutching at the door, knuckles white, I fought desperately for control over my tumultuous emotions, head bowed, chest heaving.

"Face."

Stiffening, I straightened up, taking a moment to collect and compose myself before turning around.

"Hannibal?" I felt a tug of pride at how steady my voice sounded, knowing nothing was showing.

Not now.

"Going somewhere, Lieutenant?" he asked, one eyebrow raised in enquiry, lips slightly smiling, cigar poised in one hand, the smoke curling lazily into the air between us, smelling sweet.

God, I could have done with a cigarette right about then and, oh God, I really, really hoped he wasn't going to make this even more difficult than it already was.

"Yes," I replied, steadily. "Going for a drive and then going home."

He studied me intently for a long moment, his eyes searching, the amused gleam gone from them, replaced with, with what? Concern? Annoyance? Worry? It's hard to tell with Hannibal at times. There's so much going on in his head at any one time, he's impossible to read. Except when he's on the jazz, then his eyes shine and sparkle and his mouth just won't stop smiling, in that devil may care, life's just one big adventure, fashion. Or when he's angry, or extremely annoyed, for whatever reason, then they're either stormy and full of fire, or cold and intense, like ice. Otherwise, he's pretty much a closed book and it's anyone's guess, really, as to what's going on in there.

Now was one of those times. There was something in the eyes, but I couldn't quite grasp it, and frankly didn't have the will or energy to try. I just wanted out of there as fast as possible.

Hannibal's eyes flickered back toward the hangar, then refocused on me.

"Where's Murdock?" he asked simply, his voice neutral.

"Inside." I dropped my eyes as I spoke, not wanting him to see what was going on in them.

"Oh... Right." There was a pause. Then, "Have you told him?"

Had I told him? What a good question. Had I told Murdock, who meant the entire world to me, that the airfield and the plane were a gift from me to him. The airfield was leased, not scammed. The owner had been all too willing to unload his 'White Elephant' on to me. The plane had come with the airfield. It'd been shrouded in tarpaulins in the hangar, slowly falling apart from disuse. The owner had sold it to me for a song. Probably lower than he might have been able to get for it, but then, he hadn't sold to Templeton Peck before. It had been a simple matter after that to rope BA and Hannibal into helping me get the small private airfield and the plane back into working order.

Getting the skillfully forged license and IDs for Murdock had been a piece-of-cake. He'd be able to fly the airplane legally using them, as I was totally confident they'd stand up under even the most close and in-depth scrutiny.

Today I'd planned to give them to him, along with a proposal. I'd planned to ask him to marry me some day, after all this madness was over and done with. Or, even before then, if he felt like it.

Even now I could feel the outline of the ring box pressing into my upper thigh through the pocket of my jeans, mocking me, taunting me with its uselessness now.

There was no point now.

"Face?"

I shifted my eyes back up to Hannibal.

"Um, uh, no. No, I haven't told him. Not yet." Nervously, I rubbed at my side, while my other hand still clasped the door of my new Corvette.

A lifeline to reality, holding me on my feet.

"Ah..." Hannibal gazed at me intently for a long moment. A very long moment. The silence stretching between us as he examined me.

He was the first to speak.

"Okay," he said in that drawn out tone he gets when he's surprised, and not in a very good way. "So you're just gonna leave, huh?" He waved his hand and the smoke from the cigar twirled around with it.

"Yeah." I twitched a little under his gaze.

"Not changing?" His eyes flickered to the duffle bag on the passenger seat of the Corvette. Inside was a complete change of clothing. I'd planned to shower in the working bathroom of the small office building on the airfield before leaving. Hadn't wanted grease on my new Corvette.

That was the furthest thing from my mind right then, however.

Leaving there was my priority.

And fast.

"No. Um. Hannibal, please..." I wasn't pleading, begging, or even asking, just hoping for his understanding, enough to let it go.

"Okay, Lieutenant," he said after a bit, his tone guarded. "Remember to check in later."

Nodding, giving him a brief, mirthless smile, I turned and opened the door to my new car, slipping down into the soft leather seat behind the wheel, closing the door, and for just a moment resting my head wearily back against the head rest.

The 1984 release Corvette convertible was only a few weeks old, white, with a red stripe down each side. A dream to drive, with rust-red leather seats, CB radio and car phone installed. Purchased from my share of our jobs over the years, outright, in cash, for what was once again a very good price. The best Templeton Peck could negotiate for himself, which was pretty darn good.

Turning my head, I looked past Hannibal, back at the doors of the hangar.

Would Murdock come out to me? I hoped he would. In fact, almost desperately hoped he would. Hoped he'd come and prove to me he hadn't meant his words. That it had all been a dreadful misunderstanding.

But, he didn't come.

He wasn't coming.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, I guess. He'd been restless and antsy for weeks. We'd even had some fights and arguments, which is uncharacteristic for both of us normally.

Maybe they had him on new meds? Who knows...

Or, maybe he'd just worked out, like everyone else who's ever been in my life, and loved me for a little while, that Templeton Peck isn't worth hanging on to forever.

That Templeton Peck is a bad risk.

Closing my eyes briefly, I fought down the crushing pain, which surged through me, nearly making me gasp for breath.

I thought he trusted me. I thought we were doing good together. Why didn't he trust me?

I could've helped him through whatever he's going through. Why couldn't he trust me?

So many questions, none of which were likely to get answered. Not today at least.

Opening my eyes, I let my breath out in a painful sigh, turned on the engine, and threw the car clumsily and noisily into gear. Giving Hannibal a wave, I turned the car, screeching the wheels, and gunned the accelerator, burning rubber.

Not at all my usual way of driving.

Not only would I have to have the car detailed now, thanks to the grease, which was no doubt being smudged into the leather, I'd probably have to have the wheels realigned also.

Just great. Perfect end, to a perfect day.

Murdock, why? Why?

Oh, God, why?

*~*~*~*

"Tbc... In Part 2 - Murdock..."