DISCLAIMER: Disney/Pixar owns "Paperman" - Marvel owns "Agent Carter"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: An adaptation of the "Paperman" short by Pixar.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Thornoarose[at]gmail.com
It took everything she had to hold her excitement in as she shook hands with the casting directors and accepted the loose leaf stack of paper that had the script printed out on it.
'Yes!!' Inwardly she shouted out in exultation. Finally! Finally Angela Martinelli had a role in Broadway. It did not matter that she was 1 of 7 choir girls, all that mattered was she got in!
Clutching the script tight to her chest, Angie exited the theater and turned toward the train depot. She had work this afternoon at the L&L Diner but even the reality of swollen feet and bad tips could not dampen the promise of fame and fortune she cradled so close to herself.
'This is it. My shot at the bright lights!' Angie danced in place for a moment, not able to fully contain her exuberance. A short chuckle interrupted the small jig and drew Angie's eye to a woman who stood next to her waiting for her train.
Her face, already a little pink from being caught behaving like a child, grew redder when she saw the smile aimed her way by an angel. Lustrous curled mahogany locks fell to frame a heart shaped face. Upon that face was a pair of deep dark eyes set along the slanted cheekbones that held a rosy hue. A pert nose gave the woman a mischievous inclination but it was the pair of lips that arrested Angie's attention. They were red, the kind of red that made dreams sweet and reality slightly uncomfortable in certain places.
Angie weakly smiled back, mesmerized by the quirk of those oh so delicious looking lips.
At that time the orange line train going uptown arrived with a gust of wind and a shriek of metal brakes on the rails. The vacuum created by the train blew the wind from behind Angie and into the face of the red-lipped woman. Angie lifted one hand to hold on to her hat, and before she knew it the top piece of paper from her script flew out of her grasp and planted itself smack dab in the middle of that amused face next to her.
"Oh my Gosh!" Angie's arm snapped out to snatch the offending paper off of the beautiful face. Pulling it away, Angie almost cooed at how adorable the woman's scrunched up nose and eyebrows looked coming out from behind the paper.
Those brown eyes were closed tightly but when Angie removed the offending object from her face, one eye peeked open. Then both eyes blinked a couple times before focusing on the paper still held in Angie's free hand. Pearly white teeth bit into that full bottom lip as the woman's eyes flicked from the paper to Angie and back again. Confused but catching the signal, Angie turned her head to look at the paper hanging from her grip.
'Oh!' Angie felt her mouth open into a perfectly surprised 'o' when she finally recognized what had made the pretty woman bite back a grin. There against the stark white page, just to the bottom left of the title printed boldly in the middle, was a perfect red imprint of the woman's lips.
Angie's heart skipped a beat thinking about how easily those lips had left a mark on the paper. 'How easy would it be for them to leave a mark on my skin.'
To cover up her flushed face, Angie snickered nervously while using her occupied arm to point up at the marked paper looking back up towards the woman to draw out their connection. However, all she saw was the door closing on the train and the woman sitting next to the window giving her a sad little quirk of her lips, silently apologizing.
Angie felt the air deflate around her. The sun was no longer shining as brightly as it had when she left the audition.
The orange line train pulled away from the station and all Angie could do was stand there staring after that face in the window with the paper in hand, flapping helplessly in the breeze. She stood there until the next train - green line going downtown - screeched to a halt and opened its doors. Climbing aboard, Angie sat down and stared at the top page of her stack using her thumb to carefully trace around the red lipstick so as not to smudge it.
The hypnotic movement of her thumb lulled Angie down until her lips almost brushed against the ghost of that beautiful woman's. Jerking her head away when she realized what she had almost done, Angie took a deep breath and looked out the window at the passing city buildings to distract herself from temptation. She did not want to ruin that perfect little connection to her angel by destroying the evidence on the title page of their encounter.
Clutching the script even more securely to her chest, Angie stepped off the train car and into the downtown bustle of pedestrians. Weaving her way through the morning rush, Angie walked on autopilot down three blocks and over one, stepping into a side alley with a dead end and over to the only door in the place. Opening the door, Angie caught a whiff of the diner. The stale scent of cooking grease and watched watered down bleach mixed with time-wrought familiarity to the sweet scent of pies and brown sugar oatmeal.
Mechanically Angie waved at her boss who grunted about her being late as she walked into the changing room to prepare for work. Back goes her hair tamed by a hair tie, on goes her apron with a twist and a knot, into her bag goes all her personal belongings - including the script. She'll grab it back out during her break so she can begin memorizing her lines.
Standing in front of the stove range, Angie assessed the mess left by the previous cook. She wants to kill him every morning for the unnecessary wreckage she always has to clean up but he always seemed to disappear before she could get a hold of him. Today, however, Angie did not care and automatically began to wipe down the range, throw the greased up posts and pans in the detergent-filled sink, and arrange her ingredients for her shift.
"Hey, Angie! How'd the audition go?" A peppy voice from the prep bar drew Angie's attention away from a particularly stubborn grease stain. Gloria was resting her arms on the edge of the opening window to the kitchen from the front counter and grinning. Her curled black hair was pinned up under a little hat that was part of the waitress uniform at the Automat.
Angie grinned back and announced her success. "I got a part!!"
Gloria squealed and wiggled in excitement for her friend. "Congratulations Sweetie! We'll celebrate tonight or tomorrow at the usual place."
"Swell!" Angie reached out and grabbed the first order of her day, ready to being her shift.
Late morning passed into early lunch with all the grace of a newborn foal, but Angie hung in there past the returned orders, the rude grumblings of her boss, and the hot grease burns. Her break arrived just in time to restore her sanity and good nature.
Digging into her purse she pulled out the script and began reading while munching on a cheese sandwich.
" You ain't seen nothing, yet!"
Angie kept mumbling this line over and over again trying to get the right feel as a choir girl whose best friend - the lead actress - was falling hopelessly in love with a disillusioned General recently returned from war. She couldn't decide if her character was trying to be supportive or pessimistic. Angie, a romantic at heart decided to go with supportive and excited for the romance playing out on stage before her.
" You ain't seen nothing yet."
Satisfied with her line, Angie kept reading and memorizing until the boss stuck is head out of his closet office and bellowed. "Martinelli! Break's over! Get back to the burgers!"
Yelling back, "Ya got it, boss" Angie set her script aside instead of putting it away in her bag. Lunch could be a hit and miss as far as crowds go so Angie opted to keep the script nearby in case she had a moment or two between orders to read it.
Shifting back to her station in front of the stove, Angie scrapped away the leftover grease and charred meat, leaving the range hot and ready for the next set of orders - *PING* - which came sooner rather than later.
An hour passed steadily busy with a few minutes in between for Angie to mouth the lines from her script. And then, she saw her enter the diner - her angel with the red lips and dark eyes.
Angie had just placed an order on the window bar for Gloria to pick up when the revolving door to the diner spun to reveal the unexpected new arrival.
Angie's head had become closely acquainted with the steel sheeting covering the corners of the open service window when she had jerked forward to get a closer look at her tempting woman.
She walked with a straightforward march, intent on her destination which happened to be a booth directly across the room from the kitchen window.
Angie couldn't believe her luck! Here was her chance to talk to the dame of her dreams. There was nothing to stop her now! Pulling her head back in from the opening, Angie started to untie her apron and trot to the swinging door that led from the kitchen to the floor.
"Where are you goin' Maritnelli?" growled a voice from behind her.
"Out for just a tick, boss! I need to do something." Angie didn't bother to look at the slick-haired ponce who owned this fine establishment, eyes on the prize behind that door. But just as she finally untied the dratted apron and put her hand on the door, she was jerked back by the strings and whirled around with a hand on her shoulder.
Given a push she stumbled toward the stove. "Break's over, Martinelli. Get back to orders." He stood there watching with narrow eyes as Angie huffed and dared to glare back. "Now."
Gritting her teeth against all the curses that she wanted to let fly at the ham-handed rock-head preventing her from contacting her red-lipped angel, Angie retied her apron and picked up her spatula, flipping some burgers slowly sizzling on the grill.
Boss stood there for a few more minutes as she fulfilled the two latest orders before retreating back to his office with one final warning. "Leave the kitchen and you're fired, Sweetcheeks. Plenty more girls where you came from."
Angie seethed as hotly as the range, rudely gesturing at the retreating man. 'Shit!' Angie didn't know what to do and frantically sought an answer. A loud pop of grease interrupted her panic and provided the perfect solution.
'The food!' Angie shimmied in place as the idea to send a message with the woman's food order came to her. She rushed to the window and harshly whispered, "Gloria! Psst!"
The black woman paused with a tray full of drinks. "Yeah, Sugar?"
"Did table 13 order yet?"
Shaking her head Gloria began walking to her tables leaving behind a dreadful piece of information. "She only wanted tea and a slice of pie."
"Dammit," Angie cursed, slamming her fist down on the stainless steel prep counter. *THUD* Her fist had landed on the sheaf of papers from her audition callback.
Uncurling her hand Angie framed the perfect lipstick kiss on the first page. She had to reach this woman and, picking up the cover page to set aside, she now knew how. With an expertise born of folding napkins for hours on end, Angie created a sharply creased paper airplane.
She lifted the finished product and, looking out the slim window into the diner, let it fly.
It nose-dived to the floor after less than six inches in the air.
Angie stared at it glowering for a moment before grabbing another page.
This one was launched with such vigor it sailed over everyone's heads and hit the back wall. Gloria stopped by before she could make another. "Angie! The burgers!"
"Ack!" Angie scrambled to save the food on the griddle barely making it in time. Plating the order she rushed it up to her friend only to be presented with five more tickets.
The rest of her afternoon was a rush of food and paper airplanes. Every time she came up to the window to ring the ready bell, Angie swiftly assembled another plane and launched it at the woman still sipping her drink in the booth.
Not a single one hit its mark.
When the latest bounced off the fan to splat into the pie line-up and Gloria glared death in her direction when she almost got an eye poked out two planes later, Angie stayed low for a minute, catching up on orders.
*DING* "Order up!" she called.
Gloria passed by and when she moved away, one last stink-eye thrown at Angie, the cook saw a horrific sight. The woman was rising to leave!
Frantically Angie reached for another piece of paper. When cold steel was the only thing she could feel, Angie tore her eyes away from the standing woman and looked for her stack of paper. They were all gone!
Glancing up she was her angel start for the door. 'Oh no! No, no, no!' rang through her head on a loop as she searched for anything left she could throw. Her crazed eyes calmed completely when she came upon the lipstick kissed cover page.
She took a deep breath and started folding.
Sweat ran down from her hairline tickling her cheek but she ignored it. Time was up as she peered out into the diner and saw her target reach the entrance. She threw the last paper perfectly - it was seconds away from tapping against the woman's shoulder when a boy burst through the revolving door as fast as he could creating a small pocket of air that pulled the paper airplane completely off its course and out the door.
Her angel never looked back as she stepped out of the diner.
Angie watched helplessly then felt a hand grip her collar and yank her away from the service window. "Martinelli! Get back to work!" her boss commanded, spittle flying at her face before he shoved her at the stove.
She caught herself on the edge of the appliance still dazed that her attempt to draw the woman's attention her way didn't work, and now she lost the kiss!
The boss was stomping back to his office when a *WHUMP* and clatter preceded Angie tearing past him and out the kitchen door. He stared in disbelief at the apron and spatula heaped on the floor.
Angie, on the other hand, did not give her decision a second thought as she raced through the diner, throwing herself out the door and frantically looking around for her angel.
There! Across the street! That had to be her!
Heedless of the flowing traffic Angie thrust herself into motion nearly ran over and clipped more than once. She stumbled onto the sidewalk where she last saw the other woman, catching her breath and looking around.
"Shit!" She was nowhere in sight. Brunettes with bobcuts were here and there but none of them were her. Angie threw out a desperate look around only to come up empty and disappointed.
"Arrgh! Damn!" She blurted out and kicked a pile of newspapers adrift on the sidewalk.
People around her startled and gave her a wide berth as she stomped down the street too mad to go back to work and quite sure she didn't have a job to go back to anyway. She got two feet when one of those papers she had kicked hit her in the chest. Grabbing it to throw away, she noticed it was the last airplane, lipstick and all.
Her anger deflated as she cradled the page. "Well at least I have you. I better go find your friends before I go home."
With a sigh Angie turned back towards the diner, crossing the street on the light this time. As she stepped off the road a truck zoomed by, ignoring the red light, causing a strong gust of wind which ripped the airplane out of Angie's hand. She tried to grab at it but it flew off and she was too emotionally tired to pursue. Instead she sniffed back a few tears and headed for the automat door.
That same kid that had barreled in through the revolving door earlier burst out again just as fast, causing the door to spin at high speed. All the paper airplanes that had been flown into the dining area rose into the wind and flew out the revolving door hitting Angie.
The force of the paper caused Angie to stumble back. "What the!?" But the planes didn't stop there. They literally marched the captive woman down the road, thwarting every move she made to escape.
"Stupid airplanes!" she complained under her breath as the planes pushed her up the stairs of the train station and thrust her into a car. Folding her arms the best she could covered in crinkly, rustly paper, Angie shot a look to the kid sitting wide-eyed next to her. "Problem, Kid?"
The kid looked away, avoiding any more eye contact.
Angie snorted. That's what she thought.
Then the train squealed to a stop and the doors whooshed open dragging Angie and her paper airplane entourage onto the platform. Once upon the platform Angie expected the planes to drag her off to the streets below but instead they kept her captive right in the middle of the area.
Another train had just pulled in but Angie didn't notice until the paper airplanes began to slough off of her and float toward a taller woman with gorgeous mahogany curls teasingly bouncing around her shoulders. One more gust of wind rustled the airplanes and the woman turned around at the sound.
Angie couldn't believe her eyes.
Standing before her is her angel and in her hands is the cover page of the script with the perfectly red lipstick kiss. Lips as red as that mark grinned at Angie and the woman stepped forward holding out the paper airplane. "I believe this is yours."
'Nnf! Even her voice is perfect,' a little voice swooned inside Angie's head. Outside, her tongue tripped over her words. "Oh! Right! Thanks, English!"
Stumbling forward a few steps, Angie reached out and took the offered paper, not taking her eyes off of her angel's face. "Thanks," she breathed.
The other woman's smile grew a bit shyer and she swiped a lock of hair behind her ear. "You're welcome. Oh! Let me help you gather the others."
She kneeled down in low heels and rucked her skirt up for better maneuverability. Or at least that is what Angie had to tell herself so she wouldn't say anything untoward.
"Ack!" Angie fell to her knees, not worried about her work skirt in the slightest, and darted her hands out to grab at all the askew papers.
When every last page had been grouped together and given over to Angie, she smiled brightly and took her angel's hand in her own free one, lifting to help her stand. "Thank you, English. I'm Angie, by the way. Nice to meet ya."
The hand in hers squeezed as the other woman returned the greeting. "My name is Peggy. It's a pleasure, Angie."
The aspiring actress almost expired on the spot. "Nnf, Jesus, Peg! Warn a girl before you say her name with that accent o' yours." Angie felt her face burn with a mix of embarrassment and arousal which she quickly hid behind a blockade of paper. "Dammit! Sorry!"
Peggy laughed heartily, her own cheeks turning a delighted pink. "You are quite charming, Angie. Would you like to join me for a cup of tea?"
Angie couldn't believe her ears but that did not stop her from using the hold she still had on Peggy's hand to haul her toward the street level exit. "You bet your sweet gams I do! ...Damn, I gotta stop doing that!" Angie didn't look behind her at the laughing Englishwoman, ignoring the tingle of blood under her skin.
"So," Peggy asked. "Where are you taking me?"
Throwing a cheeky smile and a wink over her shoulder Angie answered. "Only to get you the best cuppa tea this side o' the pond. My place."
Peggy raised her eyebrow at Angie but kept a smile in place. "I will hold you to that. I am something of a tea snob."
"Don't worry, English. Everything tastes better with a bit of something extra in the cup. Besides I have some leftover cherry pie to go with it." Angie smiled so much she couldn't feel her cheeks when Peggy moved to link arms as they left the station and stepped out into the bustling courtyard.
"My favorite," Peggy announced with a sly wink, spinning Angie's head with the innuendo.
'Oh this woman is going to be a handful,' Angie just knew it but she looked forward to every bit of it. "Trust me, English, you're gonna love it."
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