He wiped the sweat from his brow. It was so hot, he thought he was melting. He told himself that this was Murdock's day out and it wasn't fair to complain, but he could feel irritation starting to set in. There was only so long anyone could be expected to stand around in the roasting heat staring at plane after plane, all of which looked the same to him anyway. He had watched the airborne displays for a while, but squinting against the bright sun had left him with a nagging headache that wore away even further at his mood.
He looked down at Murdock sat cross-legged on the grass in front of him, leaning back on his elbows with his gaze fixed on the aerobatics overhead. His face was flushed but he seemed indifferent to the heat.
"Uh, Murdock? Don't you think it might be a good idea to get some shade?"
An answer was slow in coming and sounded distracted when it did.
"What? Oh, sure."
Relieved, Face picked up the bag at his feet and headed towards the trees at the edge of the field. He was a few paces away before he realised Murdock wasn't following him. He sighed and retraced his steps.
"Murdock? Did you hear what I said?"
Murdock didn't take his eyes from the sky as he responded, "Sure, Face. You're going to get some shade. I'll see you over there afterwards."
Face shook his head. Splitting up was not what he'd had in mind. With all the military aircraft on display there were people here from every branch of the services and the number of uniforms wandering about was making him jumpy. He opened his mouth to tell this to Murdock, but was cut off before he could start, by the engine roar of a fighter on a low pass. Murdock yelled in delight and snapped his head round to follow it as it pulled up steeply and banked away. A hot breeze washed over them and Face grimaced, the heat or the kerosene-sweet smell of the jetfuel making him feel vaguely queasy.
Murdock turned to him, bright-eyed and grinning.
"D'you hear that?"
Face stared at him in disbelief at the question. Did he hear that? Dammit, his ears were still ringing.
Murdock gave an exaggerated gulp of the exhaust-laden air and his grin faded to a soft smile. "Sweet. Smells like candy." He jumped suddenly to his feet. "Can we get some candy, Face?"
By now Face was ready to accede to any request that got him away from the heat and noise and fumes of the flightline. At least the candy and ice-cream stalls at the far end of the field were in the shaded area.
"Sure," he agreed readily. "Sounds good."
Out of the worst of the heat, Face felt his mood improving. Murdock bounded ahead of him towards the refreshment stands and returned bearing two enormous paper cups containing almost more ice than drink.
"To get started on," he said, handing both of them over before bouncing across to the cotton candy seller and engaging him in an apparently long and involved discussion before settling on the largest stickiest bag of the stuff imaginable and moving onto the doughnut stall.
By the time he returned to flop down on the grass beside Face, he had bought one of almost everything available and started in on them with every expression of delight.
Face settled for nibbling cautiously on a sugar doughnut, and watching Murdock eat more than enough for both of them.
Murdock finished his goodies and flopped back on the grass.
"Hot isn't it," he said, and Face couldn't help laughing.
"Only just noticed?"
Murdock sat up and shrugged slightly. "I was watching the flying."
The playful tone had gone from his voice
but he was still smiling.
"I had a lovely day, Face. Thanks."
Face returned the smile.
"That's okay. Happy birthday, Murdock."
Murdock grinned again, sly and playful.
"So, same again next year?"
"I think it's got to be B.A's turn. Why don't you ask him?"
Murdock's grin turned wicked. "That's a wonderful idea! I'll tell him you said so!"
"You wouldn't!" Face could well imagine what B.A. would make of that suggestion.
Murdock's only response was to smile serenely and lay down with his arms folded beneath his head. He looked happily up at the sky where pale clouds drifted across the sky above them, first signs that the heat would soon be easing. After a moment Face smiled and shook his head before joining him in savouring the last of the summer day.
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