|Another Earlier Piece of A Team drivel!
||[Sep. 4th, 2006|07:07 pm]
While I was at it, I figured I might as well add this too :-) Again written for Morgan who I'd move heaven and earth to make happy.|
Alexandra James leant heavily against the barn wall. The thermometer above her head read 90 degrees and that was in the shade. It had been a long hard day. Her horse stood beside her, his head drooping.
"Long day, hey fella." She said patting his neck. "Ready to hit the hay, eh?" She smiled at her own comment.
She led him into the barn grateful for the shade and breeze that blew through the old wooden building.
By the time she heard the car approaching, the horse was munching happily on some hay and Alexandra had gone back to the house.
She pushed the back door open. "Hey you’re early?"
"Not that early. Hope you don’t mind I brought a friend." The tall, jeans clad man climbed out of the car shutting the door gently behind him. "Alex, this is my friend H M Murdock. Murdock, Alexandra James, known to her friends as Alex."
Alex strolled over to the car. "Hiya, Murdock. I have heard a lot about you. Temp always talks about you. I am glad you could come."
Murdock dragged his baseball cap off his head and smiled. "I heard a lot about you too. Nice to meet you. You got a nice place here."
Alex shrugged. "Nice place but more than I could manage if I didn’t have good friends." She smiled warmly at Face. "Don’t know what I’d have done these last few months if I hadn’t had them. Temp here has done more than most. You two ready for some supper?" She beckoned for them to follow her back to the house. "It isn’t anything too exciting. Hope you weren’t expecting anything too fancy."
Murdock smiled. "You mean it isn’t going to be like one of those high class restaurants that Face here scams from time to time?"
Alex laughed loudly. "Nothing like that."
"She’s real pretty, Face." Murdock stated, watching the figure in the kitchen. "You two been spending a lot of time together recently. It getting serious?"
Face shrugged. "She’s a friend, Murdock. Just a friend."
Murdock nudged him in the ribs. "A friend who puts you up overnight. A real close friend."
Face smiled. "Yeah we are close. Running a ranch this size even with help means long days."
"And even longer nights too, I bet."
Murdock's evil grin went totally unnoticed by his companion. Face was deep in thought. Just how good a friend was Alex. Sure they had ended a fair number of nights recently wrapped in a rug in front of the fire having downed a few beers. True too that he had stayed over. Alex was a good friend. Someone with whom he felt he could share just about anything. His past. His dreams for the future. Thinking about it now he wondered just what she wanted from their friendship. It had honestly never occurred to him before that there would be anything physical developing between the two of them. Did she have other plans?
He was disturbed by the clatter of saucepans from the kitchen.
Murdock was on his feet instantly. "You sure you don't need a hand with anything out there?"
Alex swore under her breath annoyed at her own clumsiness. "No Murdock. I want you guys to just relax and enjoy this evening. This is a kind of thank you to Temp for everything he has done these last few weeks. I honestly never imagined him hauling hay but he's been incredible. Temp, you think you could do me one more favour? Promise it'll be the last ... for a while at least."
Face smiled. "Sure. You want me to run out and check on Gulliver?"
Alex nodded. "You really are getting an old hand at this ranching stuff. It's getting dark. I just want to make sure he has hay and water for the night. I'll make us a coffee."
Face stretched and climbed to his feet. "I could get used to it too. A hard day's labouring followed by a rocking chair on the porch and a cold beer."
Murdock watched him go. Intrigued. This was a side of Face he wasn't familiar with.
"Murdock? You want a coffee?"
Murdock walked through to the kitchen watching Alex carefully.
"He's a good man. You are lucky to have him as a friend, Murdock." Alex stated picking three mugs off the rack. "He said you two met in Nam?"
Murdock nodded. "And been together ever since we got back too. He's sort of part of me now. Always there when I need a friend."
Alex leaned on the working surface. "Been a long time since I met someone like him too. Always giving and never wanting anything back. I don't think I ever met anyone quite as unselfish. Handy guy to have around in a place like this. There always seems to be something too big to haul or too heavy to drag."
Murdock smiled. "He's been spending a lot of time out here recently."
"And you are wondering what the future holds, eh?" Alex smiled. "Whether I might try and persuade him to move in permanently?"
"It's really none of my business." Murdock stated flatly.
"But you'd still like to know?"
"Yeah, I guess."
Alex sighed. "I don't know. Kind of depends on Temp really. Sure I am interested. Any girl would be flattered to have him hanging on her arm." She smiled warmly. "He's a good guy, Murdock but then I don't need to tell you that. He's good. He's reliable. He could scam anything I am ever likely to need out here. And, yeah, if I am honest I'd like to think we could end up a lot closer than we are now. That isn't really my decision though, is it?"
Murdock swallowed. "I guess we both just want him to be happy."
The sound of the back door brought the conversation to an abrupt close. Face strode purposefully back into the kitchen. "He's fine. Plenty of hay and a fresh bucket of water. You made that coffee yet?"
Alex smiled. "Sorry. We were talking."
Face grinned. "About me?"
Murdock raised an eyebrow. "What on earth made you think that? I seem you haven't lost any of your modesty."
Murdock watched the embers gradually die in the fire. It was late. For the last hour he had nodded in all the right places, added small comments to the conversation but mostly just listened to Face and Alex chat about people, places and the state of the nation. He watched the two of them. They looked good together. Maybe at last Face had found a real soulmate. Perhaps he could finally settle down. Perhaps it was time for him to start taking a back seat.
"You ready to head back, Murdock."
"Hmmm?" Murdock said, suddenly realising that his mind had wandered.
"Back to town?"
Alex looked disappointed. Murdock noticed that straight away.
"How about I take the Corvette and drive back out in the morning for you?" Murdock said.
"Or you could both just stay. I've got plenty of space." Alex added, hopefully.
"You sure?" Face said. "It might be easier than the track back down to the road. You know we really have to get those holes fixed before you break an axle down there."
Alex smiled. "You know I would love you both to stay. Murdock can have the room next to mine. The bed is already made up. That OK with you?"
Murdock nodded. "Fine. That OK with you Face?"
Face shrugged. "Sure. Looks like you have guests for the night, Alex."
Face sat on the couch. He could hear Alex giving Murdock instructions on how to use the shower, asking him what he'd like for breakfast. He picked the half empty beer can that he had been drinking earlier off the table and took another swig. Closing his eyes he could hear both their voices clearly. Murdock. His mind was racing. Was it the beer? This was only his second can. Alex.
"You want another one of those?" Alex's voice brought him back to earth with a bump.
"Err, no. I really ought to be heading off to bed myself. It's been a long day."
Alex sat down beside him. "Look Temp. I hope I am not going to regret this but there is something I wanted to discuss with you. You feel up to a little heavy conversation this late?"
Face felt his stomach lurch. "Kind of depends on what you had in mind?"
Alex laid a hand gently on his leg. "You have to know by now how I feel about you. I don't want to force you into anything that you don't want though." She paused trying to ignore the total look of panic on his face.
"Hey, easy. I just thought you ought to know where I stand. That's all. This isn't easy for me, Temp. It's been a long time since I even had a good male friend, much longer since I had one that I feel about the way I do you. I don't want to mess up what we have though."
Face listened. His grip on the beer can tightened.
"God. This is hard." She said trying to force a smile.
"If I was sixteen I'd just be saying, you wanna spend the night? but I am thirty six with two failed marriages behind me. I already messed up a whole string of relationships and this one hasn't even begun yet." She swallowed and looked down at her lap.
"You want to know how I feel about sleeping with you?" Face said, slowly. "About whether we are ready to take that next giant step from friends to lovers?"
Alex smiled. "Yeah but not at the price of losing you for good, Temp."
Face slowly slackened his grip on the beer can and put it back on the table. "I like you Alex. Any normal red blooded male would sling you over his shoulder, take you back there and ravish you. It's just that I am not your average male. I don't want to hurt you either." He paused. His mix of attempted humour and serious conversation was failing dismally.
"You don't have to explain." Alex said pulling away from him.
"Yes I do. I owe you that. You see there is someone else. Someone who like you is just a good friend. Someone that I really want to pursue something with. Trouble is that I haven't got the guts to tell them."
Alex nodded. "It's OK. I understand. As I said you don't have to explain."
Face sighed. "If I know you as well as I think I do you probably already know."
Face looked away from her then. Terrified of what he might see in her eyes.
"Temp?" She reached out and squeezed his shoulder. "Hey, it's OK."
Face turned slowly. "He doesn't know. I don't think he even suspects."
Alex chewed her lip. "Then perhaps you ought to tell him. He seems a good man, Temp. OK I only know him from what you have told me about him. If I have to lose you to anyone then I would want it to be him. I am not bitter. I am not mad. Our friendship means more to me than that. But you do have to tell him. If he is the one great love of your life then grasp that with both hands and enjoy every minute of it. Don't waste another day. You are too good a man to be alone, Temp"
Face reached out for her then and buried his head in her neck. She reciprocated holding him tenderly. She could feel the relief ebbing out of his tired body. "Tell him, Temp." She whispered in his ear.
Down the corridoor a bedroom door clicked almost silently shut and Murdock leant heavily against it taking in what he had just heard. He smiled