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Part 3 in the 'A Beautiful Lie' Series
Title: One More Lie
Summary: Amy gets a surprise, but will Face help her out? And what will Murdock think? Set just after Bad Day On The Border. Sequel to A White Lie
Disclaimer: I don’t own the A Team and I’ve not made a penny from this; I just do it for the jazz!
Copyright: July 2008
Glancing at her watch, Amy answered her office phone in her usual fashion, while busily looking through some paperwork on her desk. It wasn't quite nine-thirty in the morning.
“Hello?” The voice was familiar but she couldn't quite picture who it was. The line was crackling, which didn't help.
“Oh, hi.” Realisation kicking in. “How are you?”
“I'm fine. I'm at LAX and thought I'd see if you could pick me up.”
“You're at the airport?” Amy instantly dropped the papers and sat up straighter.
“You're not in New York?”
“No! Where would be the surprise in that? Thought I'd catch a late flight and get here early, for a long weekend.” Amy shook her head, with a smile creeping over her face as she listened to her friend. Of course, this is Courtney. “So can you come and get me, or shall I get a cab? Or you could send Sam?”
“Sam?” Her smile dropped.
“I'm dying to see you two lovebirds again - might cheer me up. It feels like it's been too long. How is he, by the way?”
“Er... Sam's fine,” Amy lied, although it wasn't technically a lie; Face was fine. Shit. She tried to keep the worried tone out of her voice. How was she going to approach Face with this? Surely after all this time, he wouldn't want to do this, would he? What was it, nearly two months now since the wedding - since Sam?
Things were back to normal with them. Although things had always been normal, Face was back to treating her the way he always treated her, just one of the guys, one of the team. No special treatment. Would he do this?
Courtney was chatting away in the background, but Amy really wasn't listening, instead wondering if she should just come clean with Courtney. She hated lying to her.
“So, you gonna pick me up?” Courtney finally asked.
“Of course, of course. Just let me finish up a few things here, make a couple of calls, and I'll be there soon. I'll find you in arrivals.” Amy put the phone down, grabbed her purse and hurried out of the office, making her first port of call a more private phone and one that wasn't likely to be bugged.
Face started to wake from his sleep; the woman beside him stirred and sleepily groaned. A pleasant feeling drifting over him, memories of last night's activities, with a beautiful, persistent, sexy woman. They hadn't slept till late - well technically, till early that morning.
He let out a pleased sigh as he gently stroked Cherise's back as she lay in his arms. The pair of them tangled in the bed sheets. His mind drifted back to last night, and he hoped things would continue like that today. But he needed to make some plans for today with her. Couldn't spend the whole day in bed, could they? Although she'd said she had something going on today, but what it was had slipped his mind. Oh, an audition. She had an audition.
The phone beside the bed began ringing, bringing Face out of his thoughts with a start.
“Templeton, don't answer it,” the brunette whispered, brushing a hand softly across his stomach, pulling herself tighter towards him.
Only four people knew they could reach Face at this apartment. It could be important. Then again? Ah, hell he'd better answer it. If it's anyone else, he can say they've gotten the wrong number.
“Sorry, honey, but it might be work.” Although, if it was Hannibal, he'd better have a damn good excuse; he'd promised a couple of days down time. Face peeled an arm away and leaned out of the bed.
“But you said you had the weekend off.”
“I know, I know. But sometimes they need me if there's an emergency.” He picked up the telephone. “Hello,” he wearily answered.
“Speaking.” He recognised the voice, but didn't think Cherise needed to know who was on the other end.
“It's Amy. I, uh, need to ask a favour.” She sounded hesitant, nervous. Something had her rattled.
“What can I do for you, Kenny?” He rubbed an eye trying to wake up.
“Kenny? Oh, er... Courtney has just showed up.”
“What?” He slowly sat up in the bed.
“She thought she'd surprise me.” He could hear the sarcastic tone in her voice. “She's at LAX now waiting to be picked up.” She paused, hesitating again. “She was asking about 'Sam'.”
Cherise was starting to wake properly, sleepily moaning, and was making sure she was getting Face's attention. She'd moved up so she could playfully kiss him around his neck.
“Oh, I'm sorry, you're...”
“It's okay.” Face groaned. Oh boy, why now? Why me? But Cherise - they'd only been together a few days, since returning the boat from Mexico. He didn't want to burn this good thing he had going, but this was... Amy. And he had promised.
“Okay, what do you need me to do?” Face said patiently, trying to listen to Amy but watching Cherise in his bed. Her hands were starting to wander, and she had mischief in her eyes as she looked up at him, a sly sexy smile across her face. She was doing her damndest to make him hang up the phone.
“I don't know. What do you think? I suppose you could head over to my place and leave some of your stuff there, so it looks like you stay over.”
“Uh, huh. I can do that.” That probably made sense. He let out an uncontrolled groan as Cherise moved lower with her kisses, automatically arousing his body.
“Er... should I call you back?” There was an embarrassed edge to her tone.
“No, no.” Could she hear the pleasure Cherise was giving him, now working her kisses on his inner thigh? “Massage, I'm having a massage,” Face groaned. “Terrible back trouble lately. Working out a few knots in my back.”
“Is that what you call it?” Rolling his eyes, he could hear the sarcastic tone in her voice. Amy knew him too well. Too well...
“Face, are you sure about this? If you're busy, I can make something up, like you're away this weekend on business or something.” She still sounded anxious.
“No, no, I'll do it. I promised. How long have I got?”
“Maybe an hour, by the time I've collected her...”
“An hour?” He glanced at the clock beside the bed, checking the time. He put his hand over the phone. “Cherise, honey, can we not do this right now?” She looked up, the devil inside of her. Face frowned, trying to listen to Amy and deal with Cherise at the same time.
“I'll try to take longer, but how long can I drag her around LAX? And then you don't need to turn up till around dinnertime, like you've been at work, right?” she continued, ignoring his concerned tone.
“Okay, okay.” He swallowed, trying to keep in his gasps as Cherise went to work on him, arousing his body.
He was relieved when he heard the phone click as Amy put the phone down and he did the same. He relaxed back into the pillow, sighing, letting Cherise do her thing. An hour. He had an hour.
Shit, he really didn't have time for this. He groaned. Why me? Always me.
He tried to pull himself gently away from her. “Ah, Cherise, honey, I gotta go.” Did this woman rest? Oh boy, he could easily stay in bed... letting this sexual feeling shroud him. No. Get up.
“Where?” she said, straddling his body. Everything about her was asking for sex.
“To work.” He stroked her cheek, trying to give his most convincing serious, apologetic look.
“Work?” She purred into his ear, “But I thought you had the day off, Templeton?”
“I did, I did.” Face playfully turned her over, so he was now on top of her. “Something urgent has come up.”
She looked innocently into his eyes. “I can see that, Temp.” She tried to kiss him again, but he pulled away.
“At work! At work!”
She giggled, reaching around his neck, trying to pull him down on top of her.
“I'm sorry, but I might even have to go away for a couple of days.” He stroked her arm, her face. She just looked back at him, playfully wrapping her legs around his body.
“Do you have to go right away?”
No, he didn't. He could stay, make love, again, with this beautiful woman... but he only had an hour. And he really liked to take his time.
“Cherise, honey, I'm sorry, I've really got to go.” He kissed her passionately and then regretfully, prised himself away. She scowled, unhappily, sitting up in the bed, pulling the sheets around her.
“Look, if I don't have to go away...” She frowned at him, showing her unhappiness. “I don't know, yet. It might be the weekend, or just today. But if it's just for today, then I'll come over to your place tonight.” He winked. “I promise. And I'll make it up to you.” He gave a sly smile. “But I just can't help it. When my boss says jump, I have to ask how high. That's how it is. He wants me to meet a client. It could mean big funding on our next picture. He didn't run through the details, but it's urgent. I'm sorry.” He kissed her hand, and when he saw she become more receptive, he kissed her lips.
“You've got a lousy boss.”
Dressed for ‘work’ in a tailored suit, Face had finally managed to get away from Cherise, saying he'd call her. He’d been delayed a little more than he'd liked with her joining him in the shower, but at least he'd sweet-talked his way so that on Monday they could hopefully pick up where they’d left off. He hadn't wanted to end it with her. Not yet. He had at least a week or two left in the affair - and that apartment.
Before entering Amy's apartment building he'd done a quick surveillance check. He’d already driven around a couple of times, too, but parked a few blocks away. No military. Lynch really didn't have a clue, did he? Maybe he needed to be more thankful for that.
Hurrying towards Amy's apartment door, his lock-picks ready, he glanced up and down the corridor to check nobody was around. His hour was ticking away fast - it was nearly ten-thirty. He wanted to be in and out before the girls arrived. Luckily, it was quiet. Everybody was at work. The corridor had a fresh, clean smell about it. The cleaners had already been and gone. Safe.
About to do his magic on Amy's lock, he paused, wondering for a moment. He looked under the doormat, and then felt around the doorframe and found what he was looking for - a key. He shook his head. Tut, tut, tut, Amy Allen, he thought, unlocking the door. He'd have a word with her about that. That's asking for trouble. She of all people should know better.
Slipping the key into his pocket, he quickly picked up his duffle bag and stepped into her apartment.
He'd been there a couple of times in the past, so the place wasn't unfamiliar to him. But it felt strange being the only person in there. He needed to act fast; Amy and Courtney could be here any minute. Face went straight to work, placing some toiletries in the bathroom. He hesitated outside her bedroom door. Somewhere he'd never been. Now as he slowly entered, he felt like he was violating her privacy. It didn't feel right to snoop around her room.
Shit. He had to shake off this thing about Amy. Team. Part of the team. One of the guys. Still this was her room. Private.
He wasn't sure how necessary it was that he left clothes here. But what if things didn’t go according to plan; he didn’t have a choice and had to stay tonight? He frowned, glancing at Amy's bed. Would she want that? Did he want that? He shook his head. It didn't matter; he'd make sure he had an excuse so that he didn't stay. Best if they didn't.... team, part of the team. He sighed. But all the same, in case he did have to, if he couldn't help it, then he'd need fresh clothes. It would look strange otherwise.
Decidedly, he went to a chest of drawers, and opened each drawer until he found one with the most space available. The second drawer had been her underwear; he'd quickly shut that one. He nearly didn't think he'd find a drawer with some room for his clothes, until he came to the last one. He made some space and placed his clothes into the drawer, folding them neatly and then closing it.
He stood up, glancing at his watch, thinking he'd best get the hell out of there, when he suddenly heard female voices in the apartment.
As Amy parked her car in her reserved residential space, she subtly glanced at her watch. It had been an hour, but she couldn't drag it out any longer. After talking to Courtney on the phone, she'd panicked about 'Sam', relaxing a little once she'd spoken to Face. It was a relief that he seemed easier to contact lately. She was no longer the last one to find out he'd moved from one scammed luxury apartment to the next, and only after arguing with night guards or receptionists. Was he starting to trust her? But she knew she'd disturbed him this morning, with his latest bombshell no doubt. Would he so easily hand over his details again? In fact, she was surprised he'd agreed to help.
Then, for the whole journey to the airport her mind was in turmoil. She'd found Courtney easily enough, and she'd tried to take her time in coming home, hoping Face had gotten into the apartment as they'd agreed. Courtney had been her bubbly self in the car, nonstop chatter. Amy probably hadn't heard half of it. Too busy in her own thoughts as to whether to come clean about ‘Sam’ or not. But then, how'd she explain her apartment, if Face had gotten in? How bad would that look, showing the full depths of her lie? Maybe one last time...
And did she want to lose this opportunity to be close to Face again? She quickly pushed that thought out of her mind. Dangerous ground.
She smiled at her friend, who smiled back, still chatting but Amy couldn't help think she was hiding something. She knew a fake smile when she saw one. Face had taught her that much, although, from time to time, she was still finding it difficult to read his. But Courtney's smile was probably similar to the one she was hiding behind. But with all her talk, it just seemed odd that Courtney hadn't mentioned her new boyfriend once. That much Amy had realised.
“So, is Robert going to miss you this weekend or make the most of the peace?” Courtney's smile dropped and she broke eye contact with Amy, looking at her hands in her lap. “What? What did I say?” Amy worriedly asked, resting a hand on her friend's shoulder.
“Oh, Amy.” Courtney turned in her seat to face her. “I've run away. I just couldn't face him breaking up with me, because I know that's what he's going to do. He's been acting strange the last week or so. You know me - usually I’m there taking the bull by the horns. But for the first time, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't face him ending it.”
Courtney sighed. “I just thought he might be the one. But obviously, he's not.”
“Hey, it's okay. I just thought I'd get away for a few days, escape to LA for the weekend. You and Sam will cheer me up so much that I can go back to New York and face the music.”
Amy swallowed. Okay, so telling her the truth about 'Sam' might not be a good thing. Maybe one broken relationship was enough for this weekend.
“Are you sure he wants to break up with you?”
Courtney nodded. Amy could see the tears form in her eyes, but Courtney held it together so that no tears fell.
“Okay, let's go up to my apartment, get you settled in. We can have a coffee...”
“Or something stronger.”
Amy giggled, rolling her eyes. “Or something stronger, although it is a little early...”
“For you maybe!” Courtney grinned.
“And we can talk about it.”
“Yeah, I'd like that. I miss our talks.”
As the two women walked into Amy’s apartment, Courtney still chatting, Face appeared, startling Amy. But Courtney just beamed at him.
“Hey, handsome,” Courtney said, flinging her arms around him, giving him a peck on the cheek. “Good to see you. Didn’t think I’d get to see you until later. I thought you'd be at work.”
“Er, yeah, I, um, forgot my wallet,” Face replied. “I'm supposed to be taking a client out for lunch. So I had to come back and get it.”
Amy smiled at Face's fast thinking, raising an eyebrow that only he could see. Courtney was too busy grinning at him.
“Important client, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah. We're after this corporation to use us for their advertising instead of the LA Times, so I get to go out and sweet-talk them into using the LA Courier-Express.” Face spoke so fast, so confidently. Amy knew Courtney believed every word he said. But then, he could have said the sky was pink and Courtney would believe him. It wasn’t that she was gullible; she was an intelligent woman, full of life. But Courtney liked ‘Sam’, and what he did for Amy. Well, what she thought he meant to Amy. The lie raising its ugly head again.
“And if anyone can, Sam can,” Amy added, raising an eyebrow.
“I'll bet,” Courtney replied, not catching Amy's teasing tone at Face, or his glance at Amy, giving her a look that she knew meant she needed to play along more seriously.
“Good to see you, Courtney. We'll catch up tonight,” Face said, cheerfully. He then turned to Amy. “Looks like I'm changing the reservations at Castello's to three for tonight, honey.” He winked, kissing her on her cheek. It made her blush, which she quickly hid from Courtney. She found herself nervously giggling, totally unprepared for Face's affection to be turned back on so suddenly after all this time.
“You mean four!” Courtney jumped in, devilment written all over her.
“Four?” Amy questioned, frowning with surprised. What was Courtney up to?
“Yeah, your friend, Murdock.” Courtney nudged Face, whose expression flashed nervousness for a split second. Blink and you'd have missed it, but Amy caught it. “Don't think I've forgotten about him. And besides, I don't want to be stuck with you two lovebirds all night. I’ll feel like the fifth wheel,” she chuckled.
“But I thought you had a new guy?” Face asked innocently, glancing at Amy, who subtly shook her head.
“Er, yeah, I did...”
“It's a long story, Sam,” Amy interrupted, placing her hand on his arm affectionately. “We'll fill you in later. You better get back to work. And see if Murdock is available for this evening.”
Face nodded, with a look to Amy, “Four it is then, if he's free.”
Courtney beamed. Amy smiled, hoping it would hide her fear - the fear that Murdock would now become part of this lie for her. And would he play along, accept Face as Sam, and that they were an item? How would Murdock react?
As Face stood in the elevator, he checked out his appearance in the elevator mirror. He straightened his tie and smoothed down his doctor’s white coat, making sure his name badge was on show clearly. Face had already called Murdock to give him some warning so he would be ready for the scam. Would Murdock buy the idea of Sam and Amy? Would he play along? Hell, it had been his idea that had gotten Face into this mess in the first place. He'd damn well better play along.
“How many organs have I donated now, Face?” Murdock beamed, grabbing his bag when Face walked into his room. “I can't believe they fall for it.”
“You haven't donated any,” Face replied impatiently. “And you’re not donating today, either. You're having exploratory surgery, but it's complicated.” Face smiled and then gestured towards the chair. “Now sit in the damn chair, so I can wheel you out of here.”
“So what's this about? I thought Hannibal was giving us some time off for good behaviour.”
“It's not Hannibal. He’s is filming Aquamaniac the third.”
“He did that last year.”
“I'm being facetious. I don't know what Hannibal's filming. But I can pretty much guarantee it's got some sort of sea monster in it, and he's playing it dark and mysterious with a touch of cynicism, ” Face replied sarcastically, watching Murdock get into the chair.
“I was only asking.”
Wheeling Murdock out of his room, Face lowered his voice. “Amy needs our help, but I'll tell you more once we're out of here and in the car, okay?”
“Okay, Faceman, okay.” Murdock nodded, and then decided to give the nurses something to justify their concerned expressions, with some erratic head movements and humming.
Face just smiled it off with a 'he'll be okay' look and quickly headed out of the ward.
Face sighed with relief once he and Murdock were both in his car, and were driving off from the VA. It wasn’t that he lacked confidence in his ability to scam Murdock out of the hospital, but well, sometimes luck wasn't always on his side and there was always the possibility that the military could be watching the place.
They both wound down their windows, letting the warm breeze of the day circulate through the car as Face drove, freeing the hot air that had built up in the car. It was days like these when Face wished he had a convertible. Maybe it was time to think about getting a new car; he’d had this Mustang a couple of years now.
“So, what's this about then?” Murdock asked, bringing Face back to the reality.
“Okay, okay. You know that wedding you talked me into going to with Amy?”
“Yeah.” Murdock nodded.
“Well, a friend from there showed up in LA, and she still thinks Amy and I are an item.”
“The old 'Faceman, all you got to do is sweet-talk some old ladies', remember?”
“Yeah, but what's that got to do with now?”
Face rolled his eyes. “It's complicated.” And Face certainly wasn't going to be the one to explain it to Murdock. “But Amy didn't tell her that the relationship had ended. She didn't know how. So now, Courtney has showed up and well, I... I promised I'd help Amy out.”
“And why do you need me?”
Face glanced at Murdock as he spoke, a sly smile across his face. “Ah, you see, I kind of told Courtney about you. And so now she wants to meet you.” Face fixed his eyes back on the road as he drove the car.
“Oh great, you've set me up with some hag, right? I know I'm stuck in the VA, so dating girls isn't easy...”
“No, no, she's a great girl. She's funny and pretty...”
“But...” Murdock stared at Face.
“You two will get on like a house on fire. She's a riot. Maybe a few screws loose, but a riot.” Face glanced at Murdock, and smirked. Murdock rolled his eyes.
“So you've found me a crazy.”
Face laughed and then sobered his expression. “Oh, one thing, she knows me as Sam.”
“Yeah, Amy and I made up an alias, just in case some of her family read her stories.”
Murdock nodded. “Okay, that makes sense, Sam.”
Face momentarily scowled at Murdock's sarcasm. “Okay, well, I've booked Castello's so you need to get changed.”
“Don't burn this restaurant for me, Murdock.” He gave a cautionary glare. “And don't let Amy down.”
“I won't, cross my heart. If Amy needs our help, then so be it. But what's wrong with what I'm wearing?”
The two men left Face's apartment freshly showered and changed. Murdock kept fidgeting and fiddling with the new suit Face had gotten for him, much to Face’s frustration. Once in the taxi, Face gave the driver directions for the cocktail lounge where he'd agreed to meet the girls. He wanted to get there before the girls, as it was the gentlemanly thing to do.
Face had decided they’d take a cab to the restaurant. His plan was to order two taxis at the end of the night. Leaving the car behind might relieve any complications later – the one most on his mind was driving back to Amy’s and staying at her apartment. He knew he needed to avoid that at all costs. Besides, he could relax and enjoy his meal with a drink. It’s not like he’d need some Dutch courage to calm his nerves, even with Murdock tagging along, but it might help him relax... just a bit.
He'd phoned Amy earlier, to confirm that he did have Murdock. She'd seemed nervous about tonight. Understandable. Face wasn’t feeling anxious at all. Murdock was pretty good at running a scam with him, but would he pull this off? Would Courtney and Murdock get on? Hell, if they actually hit it off, would Amy kill him?
Then his thoughts turned to Amy. They hadn't acted this fake relationship since the wedding. He wasn't sure how much he wanted to relive it, although a part of him missed it. But he knew why...
They'd had fun that weekend, despite the complications. Shared a closeness and he'd seen a different side to Amy. Not just a reporter or part of the team, one of the guys, but a woman. Pretty and feisty, but also vulnerable, even lonely.
But she was strong and clever. It had been nearly a month now since returning from Ecuador. That night. His moment of weakness, searching for comfort. Allowing her to see it. But afterwards, she never mentioned it. Never smothered or harassed him to make sure he was alright. Another woman would have tried to dig further, make demands, but she'd left him be, like she understood. Like she knew how he ticked.
He'd catch himself watching her now, when really he shouldn't. Just looking for that different side to her. Luckily it seemed to go unnoticed. He was good at hiding the truth.
Ten minutes after Face and Murdock had arrived in the cocktail lounge and gotten a drink at the bar, Amy and Courtney walked in. Both women wore elegant dresses, Amy’s red, Courtney’s black and they were turning the heads of some guys sitting at a table by the door.
As the girls walked towards them, nervously smiling at the two men, Face studied Amy. Her short hair was more styled than usual. In fact it reminded him of only a few days ago, when he'd asked her to be the honey trap for Prince in Mexico. Dakota Haines. A sly smile crept over his face, although he remembered not enjoying seeing that lecherous creep's hands all over her. He had buried that feeling very quickly and gotten on with his con. But tonight she didn't look trashy – she looked elegant. Beautiful. Her red dress cut just below her knee, but a split in the side showing off her long tanned legs. She was certainly more made up than usual. He smiled. Amy was taking this 'scam' seriously. She had paid attention to him when talking about how to run the perfect con; always get into character. And just by looking at her, he knew she was in character, because he'd never seen her dressed like this before.
He didn't really know what was normal for Courtney, but she looked like she'd taken some time to get dressed up for this evening. She seemed nervous, but he supposed Murdock could be the reason as it technically was a blind date.
Face glanced at Murdock, catching his expression out of the corner of his eye; his mouth was open, but he quickly shut it as he looked back at Face.
“Told you she was pretty,” Face whispered subtly in his ear. Murdock nodded and stood up to greet the two women. Face followed, realising this was show time. He had his duty to do, for Amy. He felt his nerves rise. It's a scam, Face, you don't get nervous about them. Just think of it as any other scam. But he knew with Murdock around, he would have to be very careful, probably not quite the same 'Sam' as he was at the wedding. Would Courtney notice those subtleties in his actions towards Amy?
“Hi,” Amy said nervously, looking at Face, then Murdock.
“You look beautiful, honey,” Face complimented, slipping his arm around Amy’s waist. He ignored the subtle frown Murdock pulled as he did so, deciding he’d talk his way around Murdock later.
“Oh, thanks,” Amy said, diffidently, nervously smiling. “Courtney made me wear it. The dress has been gathering dust in my closet – not literally. But I’ve never really had an occasion to wear it.” He felt the hesitation as she placed her arm around his waist, too.
Courtney nudged Amy. “So is one of you going to introduce me? Or do I introduce myself?”
“Courtney, this is HM Murdock,” Amy said, smiling. “Murdock, Courtney Gray.”
Murdock straightened and quickly smiled at Courtney, lifting her hand and kissing it, speaking something not very coherent in French. Face rolled his eyes. It wasn’t even French, just gibberish sounding French, but Courtney giggled all the same.
“And I thought Sam was the charmer.” Courtney winked at him.
“Oh, Sam is just an amateur.” Face glared, almost retorting, but he stopped himself, even though Murdock had given him a cheeky grin.
“Nice to meet you, Murdock.” She chuckled, not seeming to notice the silent exchange between the two men.
“Pleasure is all mine,” Murdock beamed.
“What does the HM stand for?”
“Ah, that’s my best kept secret.” Murdock tapped his nose with his finger.
“Okay,” Courtney smiled, rolling her eyes. “So how do you know Sam and Amy?” she asked innocently.
“Uh, er,” Murdock hesitated, glancing at Face. Face frowned; damn, they hadn’t thought of that one. “I’ve known Sam years. We go back since... Nam.”
Face rolled his eyes. Great, Murdock, one subject not to mention and you go mention it.
“You guys were in Nam?”
“Yeah, we did our tour, and then got the hell out of there,” Face quickly added, seeing Murdock stumble. Amy was now staring at him nervously. He could hazard at guess at what she was thinking; if Courtney puts two and two together, she’ll make the A-Team.
“Boy, you two must have some stories...”
“Courtney!” Amy quickly interrupted. “The guys don’t like talking about...”
“Oh, right. Sorry,” Courtney smiled at Murdock.
“Oh that’s all right,” Murdock smiled back. “I could probably tell you a few stories,” Face glared at him, “but my lips are sealed.”
“Right, well now we’ve made the introductions, would you ladies like a drink?” Face hastily gestured towards the bar, getting the attention of the barman.
“Now that is a silly question.” Courtney gently elbowed Face in the ribs.
“So what do you do, Murdock?” Courtney asked as she sipped the martini Face had just handed her.
“Er...” Murdock took his attention away from Face and Amy’s unusual behaviour, and turned back to Courtney. Think - Face’s number one rule, stick to main truths - can’t slip up that way. Can’t really tell the girl he’s stuck in the VA, now can he? “I’m a pilot,” Murdock confidently replied.
“For the local radio station,” Amy added quickly.
“Yeah, yeah, I report the traffic news,” Murdock said, then more quietly he continued, “Always considered doing that.” He caught Face subtly rolling his eyes, and then his expression dropped when he realised Face and Amy were holding hands. Of course they’d be holding hands; this is after all a show for this lovely lady. Murdock smiled at Courtney.
“Do you get to see much going on?”
“Well, I see a lot of traffic,” Murdock replied, jovily.
Courtney laughed. “I mean, have you seen any bad crashes?”
“Oh, once I air lifted these guys right off the highway,” Murdock said. Well, if Face can tell some tales, so can he.
“Er, yeah, real bad crash, they needed air support, I happened to be in the vicinity and I just flew her...”
“Yeah, her, she’s always a girl,” Murdock winked. “I flew the old girl in amongst the wreckage of these” - think of an event and just change the words a bit - “mangled cars. Things were about to explode...”
“And they just hauled themselves on board and I took the chopper up, away just in the nick of time. Bam! The car exploded.”
“Wow, Murdock, you really know how to tell them.” Murdock noticed the hint of sarcasm in Amy’s voice. He looked at her. Face holding her a close embrace. No, that doesn’t look right.
“Oh, Amy, stop teasing the guy. I know he’s trying to impress me.” Courtney said. “I’ve never been in a helicopter; maybe you’ll have to take me up for a spin, or whatever it is.”
Murdock hesitated, still fixed upon Face and Amy. Close together. Not real. It’s not real. “Er, yeah, anytime. I love to fly. Love to take anyone up who loves flying, too.” He grinned at Courtney. Now there’s some truth. “I’ve taken Sam up loads of times.”
“Have you ever crashed?”
Face coughed loudly. “Murdock, would you like another drink?”
“Er, yeah, yeah, same again.” He held up his bottle of soda and then turned back to Courtney, catching a concerned glance from Amy. “Nah, never crashed.” Amy sighed with relief. “I like to call them uncontrolled landings.” Amy’s eyes widened.
“Courtney, another drink?” Face said, frowning at Murdock.
“What do you think, handsome?” Face nodded, and then turned his attention to Amy, whispering in her ear; she giggling. It’s an act. Relax. Did he just kiss her – albeit on the cheek? Maybe he should talk to Face about this.
Murdock joined Face at the bar, as he ordered the drinks.
“Courtney’s a great girl, isn’t she? See, I’m not so bad to you after all.”
“Yeah, yeah, great girl,” Murdock nodded not quite able to fix his eye on Face. “Just wasn’t expecting you and Amy...”
“Hey, Sam,” Courtney said, coming up on the other side of Face. “Please can I have a little more soda this time? Don’t want you guys carrying me to the restaurant, now do we?” She nudged him playfully.
“Of course,” Face replied, chuckling back, then turned his attention back to Murdock. “Sorry, what were you saying, Murdock?”
“Er, nothing, nothing. We’ll talk about it later.”
“Okay, ladies and gent, it’s time to go. The table is booked for eight.” Face put his glass down and tapped his watch. Courtney linked her arm through Murdock’s while Face held Amy’s hand, noticing her hesitation as she glanced at Murdock. Face gave her hand a gentle squeeze of reassurance and they walked around the block to Castello’s.
The maître d' showed them to their table and Face ordered some champagne, hoping it might calm the girls’ nerves, since Amy and Courtney seemed on edge. Castello’s was a classy restaurant where you would certainly take someone for a romantic meal to show them they were special. The small restaurant felt so quiet; there was just a gentle murmur of the other diners and waiters talking in the background.
For Amy, even with his reassurances and gestures, he could understand her nerves; this was a lie and Murdock was doing a good job subtly reminding her. Face knew Amy felt guilty lying to Courtney. Was this a bad choice of restaurant, making Amy and Sam’s relationship look more serious than she wanted? Was she uncomfortable with this? He’d thought of Castello’s to impress Courtney, make the relationship seem more real, romantic. Now he realised it might have been a mistake.
As for Courtney’s nerves, she was a bouncy bubbly girl, probably worried that she wouldn’t fit in; be too loud for a place like this. Face could see she was trying to keep her lively persona in check. But of course, the waiter liked her, for her honesty and that vivacious personality that couldn’t help but creep out. He could see Murdock liked her, too. Murdock was plying her with all sorts of stories; luckily none about Face after the warning glance he’d given him in the cocktail lounge. The two of them were getting on well. Dare he think it - like a house on fire? But of course, he was probably more relaxed than any of them. Murdock didn’t need to lie, only about ‘Sam and Amy’.
But Face knew that Murdock didn’t like it. Amy was surely sensing it, too. Okay, so he wasn’t used to seeing Amy and him act like this. So Face was enjoying it, just a little bit, acting this way with Amy – but that’s just what it was – an act. It didn’t mean anything, right?
“So, you two, any plans I should know about?” Courtney asked as they ate their dinner.
“Plans?” Amy nervously looked at Face then back at Courtney.
“Yes, plans,” Courtney insisted, keeping her stare fixed suggestively on Amy as if speaking telepathically to her. If Amy wasn’t hearing what Courtney was saying, Face was definitely getting the idea. He slightly loosened his tie and cleared his throat. Oh hell, he certainly had chosen the wrong restaurant.
“No. No plans yet,” Amy replied, nervously playing with her napkin and gently shaking her head. She glanced nervously at Face. Now she’d caught on.
“You know, Courtney, it’s funny, I know this guy,” Murdock said placing his knife and fork together carefully on the plate. “He’s a charmer, like Sam, good-looking fella, like Sam, but he just...”
“Murdock, I’m sure Courtney doesn’t need to hear about one of your crazy friends...”
“That you work with,” Amy butted in; as if worried Face was going to let on he’d broken him out of the VA.
“Oh you two!” Courtney said playfully. “Go on, Murdock. Tell me about your friend. You mean to say there is another guy out there, just like Sam?” She sighed.
Murdock beamed at Face, Courtney not catching the smugness of it. “Well, he’s not like our Sam over here,” Murdock gestured to Face, “because he can’t commit.”
Face glared at Murdock.
“Yeah, well,” Murdock glanced at Face, “it’s just his situation doesn’t really allow him to fall for one girl...”
“Courtney, how was your meal?” Face interrupted, scowling momentarily at Murdock. Hoping it was a warning enough. What was he playing at? He certainly didn’t need to be reminded of what he was really like, especially around Amy.
“Great. Great. I don’t think I have room for dessert though.” She rubbed her stomach.
“Nonsense. I can recommend the Soufflé.”
“Oh well, you might have twisted my arm.” Courtney winked. Face grinned back.
Amy dabbed her lips with her napkin and placed it on the table. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go freshen up.” She stood up clutching her purse.
“Oh, I’ll come with you,” Courtney said, following her.
Once the two women were clearly out of earshot, Murdock leaned across the table towards Face. He kept his voice low, “Face, we need to...”
“How were your meals, gentlemen?” The waiter arrived starting to clear the plates.
“Absolutely superb,” Face replied, smiling at him.
“Would you like to see the dessert menu, Sir?”
“Of course, and,” Face checked the champagne,” another bottle, please?”
“Certainly, Sir.” The waiter nodded.
Face looked at Murdock once the waiter had left their table. His smile instantly dropped. “Murdock, do you think you can lay off some of the stuff you’re coming out with?”
“What stuff?” Murdock replied, innocently, raising an eyebrow.
“You know damn well what stuff,” Face snapped back, tapping a finger angrily on the table. “I don’t know what stunt you are trying to pull but do you think you could just play along? Just for one night.”
“Play along?” Murdock retorted, glaring at Face. He’d play along, but how far were Face and Amy taking this? If he understood, maybe it would make it easier for him. But at the moment, he didn’t. “How can I when I don’t know what game we’re playing?”
Face grimaced, combing a hand through his hair. “Just don’t blow this for Amy, okay? Courtney’s a good friend of hers,” Face said, firmly, keeping his voice low. Murdock could hear the sternness of it.
“So why is she...?”
“Murdock, can’t you see, she’s feeling bad enough about this as it is?”
“So if she’s feeling bad about it, why is she doing it?” Face rolled his eyes, but Murdock ignored him. “I just don’t get it, that’s all. And we need to have a talk.”
“Yeah, a talk,” Murdock replied, sternly, nodding. “I don’t understand...”
“Sir, your dessert menus,” the waiter said, arriving at the table. They both smiled as the waiter handed each of them a menu. “And the champagne will be here in a moment.”
“Thank you,” Face replied to the waiter, dropping it as he looked back at Murdock. “You were saying, Murdock?”
Murdock glanced over Face’s shoulder, and Face also turned to look. The girls were returning to the table.
Murdock shook his head. “Never mind.”
“So, Susan is my cousin, and so that makes me related to Amy, in some distant ways, because Susan is Amy’s second cousin, right?” Courtney pushed away her dessert plate.
Murdock nodded. He didn’t have a clue. He could see what Face meant; she was far from ‘Gray’. She was great, pretty and yes, full of life.
“And you were bridesmaids?” Murdock glanced at Amy. Why’d she not want to go to a wedding where she was supposed to be a bridesmaid? He thought back to their conversation in the van that afternoon, talking Face into going along with her. It didn’t add up.
“Amy! Haven’t you told Murdock anything about this wedding?”
“Er,” Amy swallowed her drink, placing her glass back on the table. She glanced at Face, and Murdock noticed he looked equally nervous. “I didn’t think Murdock would want to hear about it. Usually, weddings are not of interest to a guy.”
Yeah, if your name’s Face they usually run a mile, Murdock thought.
“You’ve got a point.” Courtney shrugged her shoulders, returning her attention back to Murdock. “Anyway, that’s where I met Robert.”
Murdock didn’t want to know about Robert. He wanted to know about Sam and Amy, without seeming suspicious. What had they been up to at this wedding? But he let Courtney continue. Maybe she’d give something away. And she was a breath of fresh air compared to the miserable nurses on duty currently at the VA and a darn sight prettier. Maybe he should be thankful for small mercies. Although, as he glanced at Amy and Face, (who weren’t acting too sickly romantic at the moment, just chatting, thank God), he wasn’t sure if he liked this glimpse of how they acted this lie. And was it an act? Were they hiding a truth behind this lie? Which if they were, it was none of his God damn business. But well, they were his friends. He liked them both, a lot. He didn’t want to see either of them getting hurt.
Was Face falling for the wrong girl? Could Face fall for a girl?
This is Amy. Amy. She wouldn’t play games, would she?
Or was she falling for him, his act?
Shit, really need to nip this in the bud before Hannibal has a field day.
“The bill, please,” Face said, catching the attention of the waiter.
Amy watched Courtney and Murdock, who were deep in conversation, chuckling with one another. She hadn’t decided if it was a good thing or a bad thing that those two were getting on. But then what was she to expect? Murdock was the sort of guy to get on with anyone, especially a pretty girl. And he was certainly keeping Courtney happy.
But Murdock certainly wasn’t happy with Face and Amy’s act. She knew that much. She’d caught the frowns as Face would play his part, which in turn made her anxious. But it was an act, wasn’t it?
Of course it was. Didn’t Murdock see that? She often wondered why Hannibal was the actor, and not Face – he was so damn good at it, hiding behind that damn smile of his.
The waiter placed the bill on the table, nicely hidden inside a leather wallet. Face insisted that he’d pay. Playing the perfect gentleman again, although it wasn’t hard for Face to do – he usually was a gentleman. You couldn’t fault him on that.
“Face, I promise I’ll pay you back,” Amy whispered, glancing at Courtney, making sure she was still in deep conversation with Murdock. She placed a hand gently on his arm.
“No, I got you into this...”
“Don’t worry, kid.” Face winked. “Call it my treat,” he whispered as he took her hand.
“But it’s probably cost...” She stopped; realising Murdock and Courtney were now watching them. She beamed at the two of them, squeezing Face’s hand. “So, did you want to head back, Courtney?”
“Are you kidding? It’s only early by my watch.” She playfully nudged Murdock. “Where can a girl go around here to get a dance?”
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