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Summary: The A-Team have an emotional encounter while doing a bit of last minute Christmas shopping. Written as a response to the Christmas Song Challenge by Cathy Fisher.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Fingers for the beta!
Disclaimer: The characters involved are the property of the creator, Stephen J. Cannell. This fanfiction was written to promote the series, not for profit; no copyright infringement is intended.
Copyright: Stephanie Roberts, 2002
A sea of humanity filled the mall, milling about through the stores. The mad rush was on to get whatever gifts a person could, of the little inventory that remained, and get it home to put under the tree. Next to the day after Thanksgiving, December 24th was one of the busiest and most hectic shopping days of the year.
Templeton Peck made his way through Nordstrom, carefully carrying a few hangers with some garments he selected. His light brown suit was well pressed, and there didn't seem to be a hair out of place on his head. All in all, he was facing the experience with great patience . . . the calm of a seasoned veteran of last minute shopping.
Unfortunately, the rest of the A-Team weren't faring quite as well . . .
"Awww, Facey, why'd you have to wait until Christmas Eve to do your shopping?" Murdock complained, his face buried behind the boxes he carried within his arms. He shifted his weight back and forth as he walked, trying to keep the precarious stack balanced so they wouldn't fall.
"Well, if we hadn't taken so many back-to-back jobs, or went with BA to
"None taken, Colonel," Murdock grinned.
"Lighten up, guys. I've got just a couple more things to get. What could possibly go wrong?" Face countered, the tone of his voice clearly indicating that he wasn't seriously considering the dangers. Although there was safety in numbers, and the large shopping crowd could provide cover if they needed to escape, it also increased their chances of being recognized.
"BA could strangle you, for one thing. You know how he gets when he has to deal with bumper to bumper traffic, and no parking spots,"
"Thanks for reminding me," Face said sarcastically. BA thankfully was doing a sweep of the area, keeping an eye out for any MPs or law enforcement agents who wanted to cash in on the reward for their capture. Had he been there with the rest of the A-Team, he likely would have been glowering at Face the entire time.
Templeton walked up to a display and examined the items that were meticulously hung. While the selection was pretty sparce, at best, enough remained for Face to pick out some elegant looking neck ties. As he was browsing, BA approached the trio. He scowled at Face for a moment, and then turned to his CO to report, "All clear,
"Thanks, BA." Turning to his second in command,
"I just have to pay for these, and we can leave," Face told them. He ignored Colonel Smith's remark as he made his way to one of the cash registers.
"BA," Murdock called out from behind the packages. "Can you give me a hand here, big guy? My arms are gettin' tired."
"Shut up, fool. Come on," BA grunted, waving his muscular arm as a clear indication for the pilot to follow.
On the opposite side of the counter stood a beautiful, buxom, female cashier. Her locks of red hair looked like a comet's tail, flowing down to her shoulders. Face was third in line for the male cashier, where if he had gone by the woman he would have been the sixth in line. Normally he would have waited in line and tried to flirt with her, but he didn't want to make BA angrier than he already was.
A man, dressed in a business suit, was currently having his items rung up at the register. He looked as if he had just gotten off of work and rushed over to do a bit of last minute Christmas shopping.
Standing in front of Face was a young boy, about seven years of age. His jeans and shirt were crumpled, and had several notable tears and holes. Splotches of dirt covered his angelic face, clung to his blonde hair, and stained his clothes.
He was half-pacing in line and, with every turn, his eyes could clearly be seen by members of the A-Team. They starkly contrasted his appearance . . . bright, blue, and full of hope. In his hands, he cradled a pair of black shoes with ornate gold trim.
The first customer at the counter gathered up his bags and walked away, and the young boy approached. Face moved up, patiently waiting his turn. He watched as the youth put the shoes on the counter, and then told the clerk, "Sir, I wanna buy these shoes for my mama."
The cashier carefully regarded the child and asked, "How much do you have, young man?"
As the boy started pulling out coins from his pockets, resounding through the air with a ring as the small metal circles hit the counter. "I know these shoes are just her size and will make her smile. They would look real pretty on her. She's been sick an awfully long time, and my daddy says she doesn't have much time left. I want her to look beautiful if the angels come to take her tonight."
This revelation covered the members of the A-Team with a blanket of silence. Each one looked on in shock, while the cashier began to count the coins on the counter.
A dull crash filled the air as the boxes tumbled to the ground at Murdock's feet, shattering the silence. He face became almost stark white, his eyes widened and began to moisten as if they were going to shed tears. His hands trembled, indicating just how shaken he was by what he had heard.
Ignoring his own embarrassment for dropping all of the boxes, Murdock knelt down and began to stack them again.
In all of the years that they knew each other,
"Just got hit by a memory," Murdock shrugged, trying to downplay his reaction.
"'Bout your momma?" BA asked, the concern evident within his voice.
Murdock simply nodded his affirmative, still focused on piling up the gifts.
"Didn't she die when you were five?"
"Yeah, but some stuff you guys don't know. My mom died on Christmas . . . she had cancer and was sick a long time," Murdock explained, fighting back the lump forming in his throat that threatened to choke off his words. "We were broke and couldn't afford any presents. All of our money went for payin' her medical bills. Christmas Eve, right before she died, I did the same exact thing . . . I took the few pennies I had and tried to get her a new pair of shoes."
"Were you able to buy the shoes, Murdock?" Face inquired.
The pilot shook his head somberly as he closed his eyes, trying to fight back the tears. BA gently put his right hand on Murdock's left shoulder as a sign of support.
The cashier finished counting the coins and shook his head, "I'm sorry, but there just isn't enough here."
The boy turned and looked directly at Templeton Peck, his eyes innocent and pleading. "What am I going to do? We didn't have much, but mama always made Christmas special. I have to buy her these shoes."
Murdock, Hannibal, and BA all looked at Face, wondering what he was going to do. They all knew that the situation was probably affecting him just as much considering his past as an orphan, growing up without a family.
Face dropped to one knee and asked, "What's your name, son?"
"Johnny," the boy said, trying to fight back the sobs of disappointment.
A gentle smile crossed Templeton Peck's face as he brushed a loose hair out of Johnny's eyes. "Let's give your mom a very merry Christmas, okay?"
Johnny's eyes lit up as he watched Face rise to his feet and pull out his wallet. "How much for the shoes?" he asked the cashier.
"$41.52, with tax," the clerk replied.
"Throw the cost in with what I'm buying," Face ordered, pulling out enough money to cover the entire purchase and setting it on the counter. He looked down and gave Johnny a charming grin, and then locked eyes with his companions, who seemed to stare at him in disbelief. "It's Christmas Eve. Who could resist?" Face shrugged.
"How can I ever thank you? Mama is gonna look great!" Johnny exclaimed. The cashier placed the shoes in a bag and handed it to the boy, who quickly snatched it and ran out of the store.
Hannibal and BA exchanged a glance before
"Yeah," BA said. He turned and ran after the Johnny, calling out, "Wait up, littl' brother!"
As Murdock again hefted up the stack of boxes,
Grabbing the bag with the remaining gifts, Face couldn't help but to mutter, "Ho, ho, ho, boy. He's on the Jazz . . ."
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