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Angels of the Morning
Disclaimer: The A-Team belongs to Stephen J. Cannell and Universal. I make no profit from this.
Summary: A day in the life of Templeton Peck
Face woke up all at once, fully awake, no twilight between sleep and utter alertness. His instincts told him not to move and he merely cracked his eyelids, peering at the woman sprawled beside him on the bed. Her breathing was steady and deep, eyelids moving slightly in REM sleep. She wasn't waking up anytime soon. Good.
He shut his eyes again for a moment. He always stayed, looking for something in sharing a bed for the night. Something he never found. He'd wake up in the morning, every cell in his body tingling with regret, wishing he'd taken the opportunity to escape the night before. Like an alcoholic with a hangover, he regretted it each time, swore never to put himself in that situation again. Then found himself making the same decision to stay with the next woman he went home with.
What was that definition of insanity Murdock had given him? Ah, yes: doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results each time.
He slipped out of bed silently, easing himself out from under her hand where it curled on his chest, as though she had tried to gain a hold on him in her sleep. She didn't wake, only curled herself deeper into the pillows.
He stood next to the bed, looking down at her sleeping, tousled form. She was a nice girl. Not like some of his conquests. Brown hair curled around her steady, sleeping face. She was smart. Funny. Pretty damn sarcastic. He liked that.
She didn't deserve to be left like this.
He shook his head and began to retrieve his clothing, backtracking through the apartment. He scooped up his boxers from the bedroom floor and padded silently out to the living room to slip them on. Pants. Hmm. A moment of searching, and he discovered his pants in a pile next to the fireplace. His shirt was flung across the back of the couch, and he had to take a minute to unearth his tie from the couch cushions, where it had somehow become mysteriously entangled with her bra. He freed it and slipped into his shirt, leaving the tie loose around his collar.
Shoes were another challenge, as he had no memory of taking them off. He finally found one in the kitchen (he found her skirt on the kitchen floor, too, and picking it up, folded it neatly over the back of a chair), and the other kicked under the couch.
He headed towards the door, quickly buttoning his shirt. He hated going unshowered, but didn't want to take a chance on waking her.
Better for her to wake alone. No tacit promises, that way.
She was smart. She had pegged him, played this for what it was last night. Not good enough, no, not for either of them, but something. Something better than sleeping alone.
He lifted his suit jacket from where it hung neatly near the door and slipped out like a ghost, making sure the door locked firmly behind him, with her safe inside.
He stood for a moment outside the front door, squinting in the early morning sunlight. Gathering himself.
He headed over to his corvette and slid in, sighing with relief. Back in his own territory. Safe. He pulled down the rear-view mirror and grimaced at his reflection within. Sighed again and pulled out a comb from his jacket pocket, straightened his hair.
He started the car, then paused and rested his forehead against the steering wheel for a moment. Tired. Tired in his soul, it seemed. Why had he stayed? Why did he always stay? What did he think he'd find there? He sat up and shook his head, threw the car into gear and drove away quick.
There was a problem with being Mr. Templeton Peck: no one ever thought he'd be lonely. So, if he needed to seek companionship, he had two choices. He'd either go out and find some pretty, nameless companion to go home with and assuage the desperate sinking loneliness for a bit of time, or he could call any one of the Team and actually admit to them that he needed their help.
He rarely if ever made the second choice.
It was easier by far to simply head out to a bar, or a club, or hell, even the grocery store, and kind of just put himself on the market. Dressed to kill, charming and suave, he could pick and choose his evening companion. There was never any chance of him going home alone if he didn't want to. And even then, women (and depending upon the club, men) would sometimes trail after him as he headed out, disappointed to be missing out on the opportunity to be the object of Face's affection.
You'd think that would be enough to get him over his loneliness. And it was. Sort of. For a while, at least. Not all of the women were airheads. A few of them were really nice, as well as really pretty. He liked talking to some of them, as well as doing…other things with them.
But there was never that click he was looking for. He was looking for something. Every once in a while, it would hit him, that he was missing . . . something. He could never figure out exactly what, but it would give him a permanent sinking feeling in his stomach, in his soul. A sense of irreplaceable . . . loss? Need? Want?
He'd lead his life as usual, not let it stop him, or slow him down. Not really. He was good at hiding. Even from himself. He'd try to force himself to forget, to pretend that nothing was missing, that he had everything a playboy could want. Life was fine. Well, except for the whole running-from-the-government thing. And the Robin Hood complex fostered by being with the
Team. But other than those things (and THOSE things, he was used to), he had everything he could want.
So, why did he feel like this now?
He stumbled home, feeling unwashed and tired, as though he'd not slept at all the night before. Well, there really hadn't been much sleeping, per se. He smiled a bit bleakly. Now he just wanted to get in the shower and wash off the dregs of the night, and promise himself he wouldn't do it again. Not go home with the conquest of the week. Or at least, if he did, not stay. Not seek false comfort from a warm body.
Not till next time at least.
He stripped off his coat, laid it carefully over the back of the couch, absently smoothing out the wrinkles. He stood still next to the couch for a moment, his mind blanking out, unable to move or think. Stuck there, stuck in himself, no recourse or direction. Just for a moment. Then he shook himself out of it, running his fingers through his hair. Sighed, and was turning to go take a shower when the phone rang. Picking it up, he said hello, and was honestly surprised to find his voice shaking just a bit.
"Time to wake up, kid, we got a mission." Hannibal's voice was jovial, much too awake for-Face squinted at the clock on the wall-6:30 in the morning.
"I'm awake, Hannibal, what do you need?" If Face was a little more accommodating than usual, Hannibal appeared not to notice.
"You spring Murdock and we'll meet you at the In N Out Burger near Sepulveda in about an hour."
"An hour? Hannibal, how do you expect me to . . ." But Hannibal had already hung up and Face's whine went unnoticed by the dial tone. He sighed, and tossed the phone down, hurrying to the bathroom for a quick shower and shave, since he was late now. He grumbled to himself, about unrealistic time restrains placed by exasperating colonels. But he moved with a lighter step, and the lines that had creased his face since waking this morning seemed to lessen somewhat. He looked younger, even, and as he set the shower to running hot and stripped off his clothes, there was a smile on his face. He caught sight of it as he quickly brushed his teeth, and brought his features into a scowl, determined to be annoyed at being rushed, at being needed.
But the frown didn't last, and as he stepped into the shower, he was humming a bit.
Clean and shaved and dressed in a nicely cut gray suit, he smiled at himself in the mirror, pushing a lock of hair back into place. Frowned at the slight break in the cut of his jacket made by the shoulder holster. Nothing for it, though, and he sighed and headed out the door, a spring in his step as he went, checking his watch. They were going to be late for meeting Hannibal, which he was sure would lead to a lecture of sorts, and probably commentary on his conning abilities, or lack thereof. He set that aside, concentrating on a viable scheme for springing Murdock as he settled himself contentedly behind the wheel. He was turning over various possible schemes for picking up Murdock (disease of the week? Psychological study? Military burial for an uncle?) as he drove off.
Heading out to save the day again. Do the work for which it seemed he was made. Follow Hannibal's orders, his plans, get caught up in the Jazz. Get to see Murdock. That last thought especially made him happy, and he grinned, wondering which fixation the pilot would be wrapped up in today. Something sure to drive BA wild, and he sighed with easy contentment, following the familiar route through Westwood to the VA.
Time enough to deal with the emptiness later.
Today he was just Face, and that was enough.
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