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This page last viewed: 2017-08-12 and has been viewed 1194 times
A Page Out Of His Playbook
Rating: PG for some flirtation.
Summary: While returning from a job in New England, the Team’s flight is grounded due to the weather. So what’s a bored, charming, handsome con artist to do?
Warnings: None, unless you dislike a bad New England accent.
Disclaimer: The A-Team belongs to SJC and Universal. I’m just borrowing them temporarily. This is my first attempt at an A-Team fic, so please don’t kill me! Thanks, y’all. I didn’t realize it before, but Murdock actually quotes part of a Shakespeare sonnet in the Pilot episode! Dedicated to CD.
“We apologize for the inconvenience. All departing flights have been delayed until further notice. Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, please stop by our concourse for a pre-flight cuppa coffee, a quick snack…”
Just the sound of that coolly pleasant female voice, with its distinctive New England flavor, was enough to drive Templeton Peck mad. For the last week it’d been wicked dahk this, and Hahvahd Yahd that, and nothing but chowdah to eat. Definitely time to head home to L.A., some good sushi and a new week’s worth of clean, elegant, well-tailored suits. No more longshoreman’s outfits, thank you very much.
Not to mention the fact that that client’s daughter looked like something even the dog wouldn’t touch. Yowzah.
He sighed. The more you stayed in this crazy corner of the country, the more their weird rap got in your head. Not to mention the fact that Murdock had suddenly become an authority on all things Sox, for cryin’ out loud…
Glancing at his Rolex again, he suddenly wondered what was taking the guys so long. They said they were just going to grab a quick bite…and for B.A., maybe some milk with a surprise. Face only hoped Hannibal had thought to make it a little extra surprise this time. They weren’t getting out of Logan anytime soon, and the last thing he wanted on his hands was an angry, fully awake B.A. Baracus 30,000 feet over Nebraska in a commercial airliner. Not his idea of a good time.
Face straightened his tie, ran an uneasy hand through his hair, checked to see his shoes were still shiny. All good.
There wasn’t much in this part of the terminal: a coffee and doughnut joint with a sleepy-looking East Indian man at the register, a smoke shop that sold nothing but the kind of junk Hannibal avoided assiduously, and a newsstand kiosk whose matronly cashier might have made even B.A. cringe in terror. Maybe a quick walk couldn’t hurt. He’d just meet the guys back at gate C-8, just like they planned.
Everyone he passed wore a sour expression to match the soupy fog and light rain outside. No wonder everyone’s so surly here all the time. And they think New Yorkers are the cranky ones.
He paused in mid-stride outside a pretzel vendor’s cart. A tiny shop, whose inconspicuous sign read Turn the Page, stood in front of him. A real bookstore, here, of all places. And not just a boring, open-front newsstand: this was the real deal. Face grinned to himself. After Ms. Iron Fist at the other end of the terminal had turned his manly resolve into a quivering pile of mush, maybe he’d be able to grab some reading material for a five-hour flight.
A pair of bells rang as Face pushed open the door. Turn the Page was something out of one of Hannibal’s movie sets: cramped but cozy, knickknacks here and there, books stacked from floor to ceiling, a faux fireplace with a hunt scene painting hung over the faux mantle. He halfway expected Sherlock Holmes or Jane Eyre to show up.
“May I help you?”
His jaw dropped. He couldn’t help himself. Chestnut hair framed her perfectly proportioned oval face, and tortoiseshell glasses couldn’t hide her sparkling green eyes. Even though she wore a modest turtleneck and skirt, Face couldn’t stop staring. A gold badge on her lapel read “Paige.”
“Sir?” She cocked her head, and those eyes twinkled. He sighed again, more deeply this time.
“As a matter of fact, you can,” he replied smoothly, not realizing he’d been speechless for the previous ten seconds. “I’m, ah, well…a friend of mine is heading out on a flight, and he’s in need of a copy of Esquire to take on the plane. He’s been unavoidably detained, and he wanted me to…”
Paige cut him off, her voice curt but polite. “Sorry. I really don’t carry a lot of periodicals. There’s a newsstand down at the end of the terminal, though.”
“Already tried it. She didn’t have it. Maybe a GQ, or Cigar Aficionado?” He leaned one elbow on the counter.
She smiled, and it was as beautiful as the rest of her. “I’m afraid all I have is a few current affairs and literary magazines. This is a specialty bookstore.”
Paige displayed the book she’d been reading when he came in. Finnegan’s Wake, heavy, intimidating and leatherbound. “Classics and collectors’ editions. I’m an English major, so I’ve read most of these at one time or another. Are you much of a reader? Or is this friend of yours?”
“Well, yeah, we read a little of everything. Sartre, Sophocles, Thoreau. We’ve got to keep up with the who’s who of world literature. When you travel as much as we do, you have to have something to make the time go by.” Take it easy, now. No ring, eh, Miss Paige?
“I see.” She turned, and he took the opportunity to admire her from a different perspective. Very nice. “So, sir, what can I do for you?”
“Oh, come on, none of that. Call me Templeton.” He flashed her his best grin.
Her lips quirked up suddenly. Oh, yeah. “Templeton, then…how about some Hawthorne? You might say it’s a souvenir from the area. Did you know Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote mostly about New England?” She climbed one of her ladders, intently looking for something near the top of the stack. Face’s eyes went with her. Not bad legs; gotta try and get her out of that dowdy skirt, though…
He must have been at a loss for words again. “Hawthorne. Right. Yeah, maybe House of the Seven Gables? A personal favorite of mine. You, um, wouldn’t happen to have a copy?”
From the top of the ladder, Paige displayed a slim book like a hunting trophy. “You have good taste. Early twentieth century, very good condition. Would you care to take a look?” she asked.
Boy, would I. “Sure. Say, uh, Miss…?” She hadn’t given him her last name. “It is Miss?” Face pressed with all the charm he possessed.
“Turner. My parents’ idea of a cruel joke. It’s perfect for what I do, though.”
It took a moment for him to get it. When he did, he chuckled. “Hey, you’re right. Good thing you’re not an accountant, huh?”
“That would be my mother.” Paige Turner dismounted the ladder and placed the book in Face’s hands. “What do you think?” Those eyes…wow!
“I’ll take it,” he said, never breaking her gaze for a moment. Face didn’t care if it was a thousand dollars. He was making good time with Miss Turner, and that’s what mattered. “You don’t mind if I, uh, look around a bit more? Something for my friend, perhaps?”
“Feel free. Let me know if you see something you like, and I’ll get it for you. Some of my books are pretty delicate.”
Oh, I see something I like, all right…
Face had to pinch himself again. Just another minute or two, and she was in the bag.
“So where are you from, Templeton?”
Yeah, almost there.
“Oh. L.A. Just out here on business. How about you? I don’t detect a certain vehnaculah, Miss Turner,” he said with a smile.
Paige picked up Finnegan’s Wake again and marked her place. “Originally, near Chicago. I’ve been out here a while now. Business is good. You’d be surprised how many people come through, and a lot of them have money to spend, and enjoy classic books. Plus the rent beats Beacon Hill any day of the week.” Her eyes lit up as she spoke. “How did you like Boston?”
Face paused. What was he supposed to say? “Oh, it was all right. Just a little too much chowder for my liking. I’m more into sushi.” And candlelight, and champagne…
“Sushi?” Paige giggled, a wonderful, musical sound. “Never been into eating raw anything, much less fish. I’m a Chicago deep-dish kind of gal. It’s hard to find around here.”
“Ah.” He cringed, thinking of the kind of dry cleaning bills it would take to get those grease stains out of one of his ties. “Well, maybe I could be persuaded to try it. Never have.” Face winked at her.
“So how about this friend of yours? What kind of literature does he like?” Her tone was suddenly more businesslike. Had he scared her off?
That would be Hannibal. “Oh. Maybe something about war. He’s really into military history,” suggested Face.
Paige smiled again. “I do have a late nineteenth-century copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War I’m sure he’d enjoy…”
“Perfect. I’ll take it too.” Considering B.A. would be, hopefully, unconscious all the way into LAX, that left…
“Um, Paige? May I call you Paige?”
She blushed this time. “Yeah. I mean, yes, you may call me Paige, Templeton.”
“I, ah, do have this other friend. He’s a little hard to buy for…”
“FACE! Hey, Faceman!”
The mood was shattered like a plate-glass window dropped from the top of the Empire State Building. Outside the bookstore window stood Murdock, a Red Sox cap pulled low over his unruly brown hair, a maniacal grin stretched from ear to ear. He waved cheerfully with his free hand. A large bag was clutched in the other.
The door swung open, and Paige’s amused smile contrasted Face’s expression of agony.
“Hey, Faceman, guess what?” Murdock continued to grin.
“I can’t imagine.”
“’Faceman?’” Paige seemed on the brink of laughter.
Murdock reached into the bag he held in his left hand, like a magician about to perform some marvelous sleight-of-hand trick. “Well, ya know how we went looking for something to eat? They don’t have a Captain Bellybuster’s here, but…” He rummaged inside, and produced what appeared to be a fuzzy pair of Christmas reindeer antlers, only much larger. “They’ve got somethin’ even better! Marty the Moose!” The antlers immediately went on top of his Sox cap. “Pretty neat, huh? You get one with every combo platter! And their fish and chips are good, too…”
“Murdock, look, I appreciate you getting us some food and all, but,” Face added sotto voce, “I’m right in the middle of something important here. Do you mind?” He could feel a flush coming into his cheeks. “I’ll meet you outside, okay?”
“Oh. Oh.” Murdock looked over at Paige, as if noticing her for the first time. “Apologies, ma’am.” He bowed to her.
“Is this the friend you were telling me about? The military history buff?” Paige tried not to giggle.
“No, this is the other one.” Face groaned. “Paige Turner, this is H.M. Murdock.”
“Enchante.” The pilot took her hand and kissed it. “Nice shop you got here, too. I love reading, ‘specially stories about pirates, and dragons, and beautiful princesses. None of them as pretty as you, though.”
Her blush matched her cinnamon hair. “That’s sweet of you to say.” She studied the ground.
“It’s true. You could be a princess.”
Paige turned a deeper shade of scarlet. It looked as if steam would come out of her ears.
“Like I was saying…”
“Okay, okay. I gotcha. Mind if I pick something out, first?” He did a quick scan of the tightly packed shelves, then pulled out a slim volume with nimble fingers. Sonnets of Shakespeare, Volume I. “May I, milady?”
“Of course. You have excellent taste, Mr. Murdock,” she answered coyly.
Seemingly from memory, he began to recite:
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend.
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world without-end hour…
“Okay, we get the idea,” interrupted Face. Paige’s flush had faded, and her lips curled upward in a gentle, dreamy smile. Face just scowled.
“Where did you learn that? That’s Sonnet 57; one of my favorites.”
Murdock grinned. “Like I said, muchacha, I guess I just like to read a lot. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?”
Face felt compelled to interrupt again. “Well, Paige, I’ll, ah, just take these two,” he said, placing his books on the counter, “and I’ll just leave you and Rudolph, the Bard of Westwood, here for a minute to chat?”
It took a moment for Paige to answer; her attention was clearly elsewhere. “Of course. Would you like me to wrap them?”
“Won’t be necessary. Um, maybe I’ll stop by if I’m ever in Boston again? Unless you ever make it to L.A.”
“I’d like that, Templeton.” She gave him a quick smile, but it was more businesslike than before. Her green eyes had settled on Murdock and his ridiculous antlers. “That’ll be, let’s see, one hundred sixty-five? I’m happy to give you a discount…”
“Don’t worry about it.” Face handed her two crisp hundred-dollar bills and added a rakish smile. “They’re worth every penny. I’ll give my other friend your regards, all right?” Hannibal wouldn’t like that; it was almost the last of their profits from this job, and not just his own share. He’d just have to find a way to explain.
“It’s been a real pleasure.”
“The pleasure was mine,” she said, still staring at Murdock.
“Ah, Murdock, whenever you’re ready?”
“Okay, Face, just a minute. I still gotta pick out something.”
He stormed outside, leaving Turn the Page and its pretty proprietor behind.
“So what happened to you?”
It was Hannibal, puffing on a fresh cigar and gamely dragging along an unconscious B.A. Face must have been sitting on the bench and sulking for longer than he realized.
“Oh. Well, I did get us some reading material. Hope you don’t have this one already,” he sighed, pulling The Art of War from the bag.
“Nice.” Hannibal turned it over in his free hand. “What’d you have to say to her to get it?”
“Nothing!” Face was indignant. “For your information, Hannibal, I bought and paid for that. With my part of the profits, I might add.”
“No paperback copies, I take it?”
“It’s not that kind of bookstore. C’mon, look at that! Does it look like a piece of junk to you?” Face whined.
“No. But she must have been pretty. You were in there for at least half an hour.”
Face felt his jaw drop. Then he groaned. “Don’t tell me you were watching me all this time?”
Hannibal pulled his cigar from his mouth for a moment. “There’s not much else to do in an airport terminal when it’s raining and the flights are grounded, Lieutenant.”
Murdock exited the bookstore just then, still wearing his Sox cap and fuzzy Marty Moose antlers along with a happy smile, and whistling La Cumparsita to himself.
“So?” Face asked, his stomach doing cartwheels for the first time in ages.
“So, what?” Murdock answered, a bit too cheerfully for Face’s liking.
“What’d she say?”
“What’d who say?”
“Paige!” Sometimes he thought B.A. might be right…Murdock really could be a crazy fool.
“Oh, yeah. Paige.” Murdock reached into his own bag and pulled out a copy of The Wind in the Willows. “What a sweet lady! She cut me a pretty good deal on this little baby, and she even gave me a lollipop.” He grinned boyishly.
“Is that what they’re calling it now?!”
Hannibal snorted. It was a good thing B.A. was out cold, or he might have joined in.
“I almost forgot. She, uh, wanted me to give ya this,” Murdock added, producing a crumpled piece of what looked like parchment from inside his bomber jacket. Then he placed it in Face’s suit pocket. “Said to wait until later, know what I mean?” He looked ready to burst with happiness. “Well, c’mon, guys, let’s go see if they’ve got some arcade games or something!” With that, he trotted down the terminal past dozens of surly passengers, oblivious to their stares.
“Go ahead. I don’t know if we’re getting on that plane any time soon,” said Hannibal.
With trepidation, he reached for the little slip of paper. It was a brief note in Paige’s elegant script:
Templeton, or should I call you Faceman?:
Call me when you get to L.A. 555-7864. Your friend is something else.
XOXO, Paige Turner
PS. I suppose I could try sushi.
“Wow.” Face sighed deeply. Even when things didn’t look like they were going his way…inevitably, the laws of nature had a way of working things out. He held the note to his nostrils and inhaled. Paige Turner wears rose oil. Lovely.
“Let’s get going, Lieutenant.” Hannibal smiled, a familiar twinkle in his eyes. “Better grab some good seats near the gate before they’re gone.”
“Okay. Looks like it’s clearing a bit outside, you think?”
I owe you one, Murdock. Even if you do wear moose antlers and talk to your socks…
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