Author's note: Hello there. Iraq seems like the perfect set up for Murdock and Face shenanigans. Hope you enjoy! :D It was quite fun to write.


"Your black cards can make you money/ so you hide them when you're able/ In the land of milk and honey/you must put them on the table."

~Steely Dan, "Do it Again."

Lady luck had certainly been flirting with him all day. It always landed on black for roulette and never over twenty-one for Blackjack; now the dice came up seven and Face just grinned. He stood at the craps table and clattered his winning round of chips as he pondered the next move. The surrounding patrons watched him with admiration and mild fascination. Behind his dark sunglasses, Face's eyes narrowed critically. He set aside a handful of chips and grinned back at the dealer, who passed him the dice once again.

"Anybody want to call it?"

The small crowd laughed, but didn't answer his query. Face shrugged, but his grin remained and he rattled the dice in his palm before tossing them back to the table. The dealer raised his eyebrows approvingly.

"Eight Easy Eight."

The watchers all exclaimed in surprise and clapped approvingly as Face raked in the latest round of winnings.

"Please," he laughed, "Hold the applause."

They all smiled at him, even a few of the girls, who were normally too shy for his taste. Face granted them both a covert wink and set up for his next roll. Unfortunately, the door burst open behind him and a blast of hot hair and sand spiraled into the room. The beautiful fantasy of the Vegas casino was swept right out along with the comfortable coolness.

Face still stood at a craps table, thought it was an old desk remodeled for the occasion. Half of his winning tokens were bottle caps, the others being little pieces of circular plastic. He wasn't wearing a suit, but a pair of fatigues and an old Flyers t-shirt. And those pretty ladies were soldiers just like him- which meant they were off limits.

The Lieutenant whirled around to see who had caused him this unwilling break from fantasy and was surprised to see Brock Pike stood there, two of his choice Black Forest cronies at his shoulders.

Well. That'll do it…

Face pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head as the three mercenaries sauntered into the tent. He smiled at them.

"You guys are bad luck."

Pike grunted what was meant to be a laugh, folding his arms as he took a cursory glance around. Face leaned against the table and proudly did the same, as if noticing the strings of flashing Christmas lights for the first time. At the back wall, a hand-painted sign boldly proclaimed: 'Asleep in the Desert' and a constant stream of 80s music thumped out of the speaker system, simply because it was the only station that wasn't ridden by static or depressing world affairs. Face watched as a thin smirk tugged at Pike's lips.

"So you actually pulled it off. When I heard someone set up a casino over in 104, it just didn't click." He paused to gesture around them. "But I figured once Templeton Peck was bored, anything was possible."

Face was already sick of talking to the guy and he'd only been there five minutes. But he took in a slow breath to calm himself, despite he and Pike had never been on good terms. Mercenaries and Rangers didn't usually mix well at any rate.

"Let's see… roulette, poker, Blackjack, craps," Pike raised his eyebrows. "You even got a slot machine. Now how the hell did you manage that?"

Face was really starting to hate that smirk of his. "Professional secret."

"Ah. You really outdid yourself, Peck. Scamming your own comrades this time- that must make it a lot easier."

The slot machine went off and a group of Rangers cheered from the corner of the tent. Face smirked at the sound. Pike watched the activity with the same detached interest he reserved for talking to anyone who wasn't a part of his unit. Turning back to Face, he asked,

"Speaking of idiots, where's that retarded pilot of yours? I'm surprised he's not here helping you count cards."

Pike's thugs growled with laughter. Face managed a laugh as well, even though he felt like shoving all three meatheads in front of an Abrams tank. He shook his head as the laughter faded away.

"That's a good one! Really- didn't think you had it in you." Face could hardly keep his smile going, still bristling at the insult to Murdock. He held out his hand to the doorway. "Now, honestly- don't you guys have better things to do? Kick some puppies? Throw rocks at children? Or should I start with the gay jokes and really piss you off?"

A few of the surrounding Rangers laughed and Face's smile grew genuine. Pike scoffed, though he clenched his jaw tight. A muscle jumped in his cheek and Face bit down a laugh.

Struck a nerve after all.

"Maybe we will do something," Pike concluded, "Yeah, me and the boys. One of our choppers needs a pilot-maybe we'll go find your moron and convince him to do it for us."

Face couldn't quite hold back the surge of anger and resentment this time. He crossed his arms. He was used to getting shit from Black Forest, but cheap shots at Murdock were always a sensitive issue.

"Christ. What the hell do you want, Pike?"

The mercenary smirked; Face narrowed his eyes.

"I just want to gamble- try my hand at it."

There was even an "innocent" shrug to go along with that fake smile. Face glanced down at the craps table, squeezing the dice in his palm. He thought for a minute as "Rock the Casbah" rang out over the speakers. A small smile came to him and finally, he agreed.

"If you really want to, be my guest."

Pike's gaze lingered on him for a moment before he stepped up to the craps table. Face rattled the dice in his hand once as he spun on his heel to join him.

"Let's do this street style," the mercenary grunted, "Why don't you give your dealer a break?"

Face nodded. "Whatever, man. You can even go first."

He motioned for the young Corporal to head out for a drink, trying not to react as Pike snatched the dice from his hand.

"Think you can manage some real cash, Peck?" he asked.

"Yeah- let's make it interesting." Face leaned forward to place his hands on the table. "A thousand?"

"Two-thousand. And I get back all the booze you stole from our stash."

Face inwardly grimaced. He'd really have to be more careful about stealing things from their camp... But he spread his hands dismissively, as if he didn't really know what Pike was talking about. Once the wager was settled, they positioned themselves around the table.

"All right- I trust you know the score," Face began, "Seven or Eleven first off wins, anything other then that is-"

"Enough stalling."

Pike rattled the dice and tossed them. They came up nine and Face smirked as he gathered up the little cubes. He'd expected worse, but shrugged. It didn't really matter, anyway; Face had been doing sleight-of-hand tricks since he was a kid and it was no problem to procure the other pair of dice he'd kept in his pocket for just such an occasion. If Lady Luck had been flirting with him previously, she was ready to kiss him now.

Dramatically- a little too dramatically then usual- Face rolled the dice. He bit his lip, seeing a seven flash into view as they tumbled, knowing victory was imminent and he'd soon be two thousand dollars richer. They stopped and his jaw dropped.

"Bull. Shit!"

Two ones glared out at him, sealing his fate. Pike's unmistakable smoker's laugh grated in his ears as he stared incomprehensibly at the outcome, practically sinking to his knees to be eye-level with the table.

"Looks like you crapped out…what a shame. I'll take it all in cash, Peck; whenever you're ready."

Without a word, Face snatched up the dice and headed for the exit, struggling with the tent flaps as he went. Furious and humiliated, he stomped back through camp, kicking up a cloud of sand. Heat waves shimmered on the horizon to complement the blazing afternoon sun, which was at its strongest and caused an instant sweat to form across Face's forehead. By the time he found B.A, his Flyers shirt was soaked. He hit the Sergeant on the shoulder to get his attention.

"Hey, where the hell is Murdock?"

B.A. straightened up from his position hunched over the engine of a Humvee. He took on an annoyed expression at the mention of the pilot and gestured ahead with his socket wrench.

"The fool's by the grill. Told me he's been making food for your casino."

Face heaved a sigh and wiped away more sweat on his sleeve. Before he could say anything, a distant monotone horn blast cut across him. He looked back at B.A., who was scowling threateningly.

"Aw, hell no. You didn't, man."

Face winced as the horn sounded again. B.A growled and shook his head.

"It was part of the deal, okay?" Face blurted, starting to jog away toward the sound. "I'm sorry!"

B.A. pointed at him with the wrench this time. "You will be, pretty boy. Even Hannibal didn't want you to do that!"

Face rolled his eyes as he weaved through the maze of tents and soldiers to where Murdock had stationed himself. He could hear the pilot's nasal voice and quickened his pace.

Captain H.M. Murdock stood behind two open-air grills, flipping patties of some kind as flames spiked through the gratings. He wore a stained 'Kiss the Cook' apron over his usual attire (which was never the standard-issue garb) and his well-worn baseball cap backward. He flipped a few patties on to a nearby plate with surprising flair as he whistled to himself.

"Murdock!" Face barked.

But his words were lost in another deafening horn blast. The Lieutenant gave a start uncontrollably.

"Order up!" Murdock hollered, almost as loudly. His wide eyes finally settled on Face and he grinned. "Hiya, pal. You want a burger or two? I made 'em with the secret sauce."

He wiggled his eyebrows. The thought was almost tempting, seeing as how it smelled very good and Face had only eaten a scrounged bowl of peanuts and drank a few beers prior. But the anger was winning out over hunger at the moment.

"No, I don't want a goat burger, or a cheeseburger, or a hot dog!"

Murdock was instantly confused. "Why not?"

"Well for one thing, I heard you've been using WD-40 as of late, and another thing-!"

The grill hissed as Murdock flipped patties yet again. He giggled, shaking his head.

"Oh, Faceman. Everything's fine in moderation."

The Lieutenant stared at him. Murdock slapped more patties on to the plate and arched an eyebrow. He pointed at him with the spatula, concerned.

"Are you mad at me or something? Because usually the needs of your stomach outweigh the needs of others."

"Yes! I'm mad at you!" Face replied almost desperately. He was feeling pretty damn close to ripping out all his hair.

"Then what's the matter, Poker Face?"

He abruptly held up his hand to Murdock's nose. "You loaded the dice the wrong way!"

Even as he spoke, the little cubes rolled in his palm to show two ones yet again. A frown creased Murdock's forehead as he gingerly flicked a die and deepened as it rolled back to one.

"But…I thought two ones was good."

"No! It's not- do you know what that is?" Face furiously prodded the air over his hand. "That's SNAKE EYES!"

"Oh…well…I…" Murdock stammered as an excuse attempted to form on his lips. "I thought it was good! Y'know- Snake Eyes- It's dangerous."

He even held up his hands and wiggled his fingers dramatically. Face finally pocketed the dice and growled in mounting exasperation. Murdock watched him, nervously spinning the spatula in his hands. The remaining patties had started to crackle and hiss with more intensity but neither of them seemed to notice.

"A three and a four, Murdock-that's all I needed. I just lost two grand to Pike because you thought two ones were dangerous!"

The pilot watched him stomp around with a peculiar uncertainty, having never seen him act this way.

"Are you…throwing a tantrum, muchacho?"

Face spun around and leaned back over the grill, which was now starting to smoke.

"Yes! If by tantrum you mean I'm going to kill you!"

Murdock grinned. "You don't mean that. You're startin' to sound like B.A."

Face took a firm stance and put his hands on his hips. He pointed to the bright yellow horn leaned up against the side of the grill and tilted his head.

"Give me that back."

Murdock's grin fell. He snatched up the ridiculously long horn and hugged it to himself.

"No! You said I could have it if I helped you, therefore it's mine!"

"But the dice came up two instead of seven, Captain," Face reminded him, "And that means I get the damn Vuvuzela."

"Aw, come on! Don't you think you're overreacting?"

Murdock had backed away from the grill, flames now blossoming under the remaining burgers. Face circled around it, still holding out his hand for the Vuvuzela.

"It's your fault I'm two thousand dollars in the hole- I don't think so!"

At his words, the remaining patties promptly burst into flames. Murdock yelped as he hurried back to the grill, shoving Face out of the way to put out the fire. He scraped the flaming meat from the surface and slapped it to the sand, where he presently stomped on them. Seeing the pilot was distracted, Face snatched the Vuvuzela from his hand and started running. Murdock spun around.

"That was dirty, Faceman!"

He laughed over his shoulder. "Thanks, Murdock! You want the dice back?"

The pilot fixed him with a warning stare before he sprang into action and Face instantly had to run faster, having forgotten how fast Murdock really was. Ever since that mission in Venezuela, they'd all had to learn how sprint, but Face distinctly remembered the Captain pulling ahead of all of them, skipping around to boot before he was first to the plane.

Sonofabitch!

He caught a glimpse of B.A. ahead, still working diligently on the Humvee's engine, before he was tackled hard from behind. Face gasped as all the air left his lungs, receiving a mouthful of sand as he fell head-first. Murdock's elbow dug into his back as he strained to reach for the Vuvuzela.

Face rolled, successfully pushing him off. He managed to stagger to his feet and ran toward B.A. as his chest throbbed with pain from the tackle. Spiting out sand, he shouted in an attempt to catch the Sergeant's attention. Murdock crowed something bizarre and launched himself on to Face's back. He stumbled, but didn't fall, still running as Murdock hooked both arms over his shoulders and hung on. The pilot took the hat from his head and started to repeatedly beat Face with it, who cried out as he ran.

They finally fell and rolled away from each other; Face dropped the Vuvuzela. Murdock lunged for it and his hand closed on the conical part. He pulled, but was surprised to see the Lieutenant had managed to grab the other end. The two Rangers stood and began a strange tug-of-war, oblivious to the stares of other soldiers and their disheveled appearance. B.A. was nearby, exclaiming happily as the engine finally started on the Humvee, forcing them to shout over the noise.

"Face, it ain't yours!"

"I spent fifteen bucks on the damn thing and extra for shipping it out here! So it is mine!"

"Leggo!"

Face yanked hard; the horn slipped from his grip and into the air. He and Murdock watched, wide eyed, as it tumbled end over end toward the Humvee. The smile fell from B.A.'s face as he noticed it coming toward him.

The following hideous grinding noise made all three of them cringe.

The engine presently stopped, pieces of yellow plastic visible inside it. Murdock slapped his hands to his head. Face grimaced.

"Oh, Lordy..."

"Shit…"

B.A. turned to them, a cold glare set across his features. Murdock laughed nervously and Face fixed him with his best grin. The Sergeant just walked closer, the muscles in his arms flexing, his jaw clenched. Murdock wrung his ball cap in his hands and pointed to Face.

"It was his fault."

"What?"

Wordlessly, B.A. grabbed Face by the hair and Murdock by his ear. Both Rangers cried out and had no choice but to follow, sputtering pleas as they went.


The sun was finally beginning to set and the desert had cooled to a balmy eighty-three degrees. The sky was a vivid palette of orange and red, beautiful in all actuality from the top of a large sand dune. From this far away, the camp looked like a group of bright lights and fluttering tents, complemented with the occasional take off of a chopper or two.

Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck and Captain H.M. Murdock sat together on the dune, watching the activity and eating one of the latter's goat burgers. Face coughed as he ate, frowning down at the food questioningly.

"Find a hair?" Murdock wanted to know, still chewing.

"No…" Face reached behind his tooth and threw something to the sand after inspecting it. "Looks like another pebble."

Murdock raised his eyebrows. "I've been working on this bite for ten minutes now."

Face hung his head and snorted into laughter. The pilot looked over at him and grinned through a mouthful of food. A cool breeze rustled their clothes and hair, sending spurts of sand into the air. Instead of a beating, B.A. had forced them to eat the ruined patties that had caught on fire (and were stomped on by the cook), as a way of getting back at them for ruining his work. Aside from the fact the burgers were burnt to a crisp and had the imprints of Murdock's boots in them, they weren't too bad. And anything was better then getting the crap beaten out of them by B.A. and 'talked to' by Hannibal.

Murdock sighed and finally swallowed his bite. He grimaced and shook his head.

"I don't think I got all the rocks out of mine."

Face's smirk grew into a smile. "That's where the flavor comes from."

It was Murdock's turn to laugh. His eyes settled on the horizon as he fiddled with the burger. Face took another bite of his and sand pattered on to his lap.

"Hey…"

"Yeah, Murdock?"

"I'm sorry you lost two grand, on account of me."

Face shook his head, playfully elbowing the pilot. "Don't worry about it. I'm sorry I overreacted. And ruined the Vuvuzela."

Murdock reached for something beside him and produced the gnarled cone of the horn- the only surviving part- and blew into it. A strangled note sounded and both men winced. Murdock looked at it thoughtfully and smirked.

"That's okay. As long as you're not mad at me anymore."

"I'm not," Face said, "There's plenty of ways to get back at Pike. I'm sure we can think of something."

Murdock picked a few pebbles from the patty and tossed them in his ball cap with the others.

"We always do, Poker Face."

The Lieutenant laughed, watching as the silhouette of a helicopter trailed across the sky on the horizon. He smirked and playfully slapped his hand on Murdock's head. Face nodded to himself and murmured.

"Yeah. We always do…"