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"Hann...i...bal..." a weak voice said to Hannibal Smith, reaching out his bloodied hand towards the older man as Hannibal kneeled down next to him.. Hannibal didn't grab hold of the bloodied hand, like he usually would have done if the circumstances were different. Instead, he took off his glove, and put his hand on Face's chest.
Hannibal didn't like what he felt. "He's weak, but we can move him. Get the van, BA. We have to get him to DC General right away." 'He'll die if we wait for an ambulance,' he thought to himself, not wanting to frighten the big sergeant any more then he already was for his "little brother."
"He'll be there in five minutes," B.A. stated firmly, before he practically ran towards the door. He noticed that Murdock was making mincemeat out of the head goon, Lou. And if Face didn't need a doctor so bad, B.A. would have happily joined in.
Hannibal heard the fight too, and knew what was happening. He also heard Frankie tell Murdock to stop, telling him that Lou was out. Hannibal heard the door open, and a new voice saying: "What the Hell is this?"
"If I were you, I'd start thinking Chinese food, Pal!" Hannibal heard Murdock yell. Then, apparently to Frankie: "Let's grab that cop!"
"I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON! AND I WANT TO KNOW NOW!" Hannibal heard the new voice yell. He lifted Face's shoulders, and Face's head fell against his chest. He then scooted his other arm under Face's knees, and braced himself to lift.
"Well, it's like this, Mr. Liepster..." Sal started to say.
"This is what is going on!" There was a collective gasp in the small restaurant as Hannibal stood up, Face's body cradled in his arms. Face no longer was leaning his head on Hannibal's chest. Instead, his head fell limply back over Hannibal's arm.
The van pulled up outside, and Hannibal turned to Liepster. "He saved us all," he said briefly, nodding towards Sal. Even though Liepster recognized Hannibal, and knew that Hannibal was lying, he wasn't going to stand and argue the point. Instead, he pushed the door open, letting Hannibal carry Face out to a black and red van. Then he ran for the phone.
Hannibal sat in the back of the van, Face cradled in his arms. Hannibal knew that it would have been better if Face's legs were propped up. But, shock had already set in, and Hannibal saw no point in doing that now. And besides, Face had spent enough time laying on a floor. Now, it was time for Hannibal to hold him, for as long as he possibly can. He was desperately afraid that this would be the last time he could.
Hannibal looked down at the face of the young man that he thought of as his own son, and stroked Face's cheek with his knuckles. "It's gonna be O.K., kid." he whispered. "It's gotta be. We can't lose you. DAMMIT, BA! How much longer?!"
"Almost there!" B.A. answered, pulling towards the Emergency room doors. Slamming the van into park, he quickly got out to assist Hannibal. Opening the van's side door, he was almost knocked over by Hannibal, who sprung out of the van, holding Face in his arms. Words were unnecessary. The two men hurried into the Emergency room, all the while preying that it wasn't too late.
BA ran up to the first nurse he saw. "My friend has been shot! He needs a doctor!" He practically yelled at the young woman, indicating Hannibal and Face with his head.
Momentarily taken aback by the large man with a Mohawk, she almost screamed. But seeing an older man holding an unconscious other man, she quickly remembered what she had been trained for. "Dr. Simpson, please come to exam room one." She then led the two men into the exam room, where BA put him down. "You can wait outside," she told Hannibal and BA after a few other doctors and nurses came into the room. The two men didn't budge however, and it was clear that Dr. Simpson didn't want them here either. "Please, leave. We'll take care of your son."
Hannibal and BA quietly left the room.
Ten minutes later, Hannibal and BA were joined by Frankie and Murdock. "The hoods and that cop are being looked after by Sal and the Attorney General, Johnny." Frankie said, not believing that Murdock would say anything. The older man had been quiet ever since they left the restaurant for the hospital. "Murdock put in a call to Stockwell, who's sending some reinforcements. How's Face?"
"We don't know," Hannibal answered tiredly. "They haven't told us anything yet."
At that point, Murdock spoke up. "Oh God, Hannibal. If he dies, it's all my fault!"
"No it's not, Murdock..."
"Yes it is!" Murdock practically yelled in Hannibal's face. "Because I was the one who told him to do it! I told him that he had to think of a way to neutralize those two guys, and I didn't see the other person! If he dies, I might have well pulled the trigger myself!"
"SHADDUP, FOOL! We don't have time for this gibber-gabber! Little brother doesn't need that kinda talk!"
"What the HELL is going on out here?!" A new voice practically shouted. All four men turned to see an middle aged African American woman, glaring at them. "If you continue to disrupt my hospital and my patients, I will call security and have you removed. Am I making my self clear."
"Yes, little mama..."BA started.
"I am not your little mama. My name is Doctor Doris Simpson, and you will address me as such. Do you understand?" The woman said is a low, cold voice.
"Yes, we all understand." Hannibal said, trying to defuse the situation. Emotions were running high. And even though he wasn't the best person at relating how he felt, he believed that he had to get the Team under control. "It's been a rough evening, you understand. How is our friend?"
Dr. Simpson turned to Hannibal, relieved that somebody in this strange group had a cool head on his shoulders. "We are prepping him for surgery. I don't like trying to get that bullet out while he's in such deep shock. However, I'm afraid of what would happen if we wait any longer. We almost lost him."
Hannibal felt like he had been kicked in the stomach. The others looked as bad as he felt. He noticed that Frankie glanced worriedly at Murdock, putting a hand of support on the pilot's shoulder. He heard Dr. Simpson say something to him. "I'm sorry. What was that?"
"You might want to notify next of kin, Mr. Smith. I'll do what I can, but I'm not making any promises. I do need relatives permission to operate."
"Face is an orphan. Except for a half-sister who lives in Florida, we're the only family he has. We'll all sign." Hannibal signed his permission to have the doctors operate, and prayed he wasn't signing away his friends life. He then noticed them wheeling a gurney with Face's body on it. He gave back to consent form, and went to stand by his lieutenant.
Face looked even more awful then he had before, if that was at all possible. His handsome face, which usually had a healthy glow under the tan, was gray. And his lips, which usually were soft pink, looked almost blue to Hannibal's eyes.
"Oh, dear God, don't let us lose him." Hannibal quietly preyed. He wasn't a religious man. But he would be willing to pray to save the life of his lieutenant. He bent closer to Face, so that his head was directly over Face's. "We'll be there when you wake up, Face." He said softly kissing the young man's forehead. Right now he didn't care about what anyone would think.
"We sure will, little brother," BA added. Murdock, who was fighting tears, could only kiss his friends forehead, and nod. Frankie, feeling like an intruder, stayed away. The four men sadly watched their friend wheeled away to a place that they couldn't follow.
Seeing Hannibal's look, and know what he had in mind, BA put a large hand on Murdock's shoulder. "I could sure go for some milk. How about you? My treat."
Murdock numbly let BA lead him away, the opposite direction of Face. When the big sergeant and pilot got into the elevator, Hannibal turned to the newest member of the A-Team, Frankie Santana. "What happened, Frank?"
Frankie took a deep breath, and slowly let it out to calm his nerves. "Everything was going fine at first, Johnny," the young man told Hannibal. "We were looking at the menu, all set to order dinner. I asked about valet parking, wondering about my car being safe, and Face was kidding me about it. Murdock went off to take someone else's order, a married couple, and two men who had just sat down. A few moments later, Murdock came back, telling us that the younger guy was wearing a .357. There had been some robberies in the neighborhood, and Murdock believed Sal's restaurant was the next target."
Frankie paused to get his breath, and Hannibal put a supportive hand on his shoulder. Tears came to Frankie's eyes as he told the rest of what happened. "The younger guy, Joey, went into the bathroom, and Face followed him. A few minutes later, Joey returned to his table. Face came back to ours, and confirmed that the guy wasn't a cop, nor did he have a permit for his gun. Murdock insisted that Face think of a way to help Sal, and Face did. Face was to return the young guys wallet, Murdock was to spill a beer on him, and I was supposed to grab the other man."
The tears in Frankie's eyes rolled down his face, and he was unable to stop them. Hannibal squeezed his shoulder, encouraging him to continue when he was ready. "We didn't see the other guy, Hannibal!" Frankie cried. "We were wrestling with the two guys, and then we heard a gunshot, and a woman scream. I turned just in time to see Face collapse onto the floor. Murdock tried to get help for him! He really did! But that big guy, Lou, wouldn't allow any help! And when BA came for that pizza, the young guy Joey, sat in back of BA, with a gun on Sal. If I said anything, he would have killed him!"
Hannibal squeezed the young man's shoulder. "You did the right thing, Frankie," he said softly to the young man. "You did the only thing that you could, under the circumstances. Hannibal patted the young man's shoulder, trying to comfort him. "Nobody blames you, Frankie. You did the right thing," he said soothingly. "Now, I need you to wash your face. I'm going to call Ellen and get her up here. It's going to be a long night."
"I'll be in the chapel," Frankie said as he started to turn around. Then he stopped. "Johnny, thank you," he said softly. Giving Hannibal a small smile, he made his way to the men's room to wipe the blood off his hands.
"There's hope for him yet," Hannibal thought as he slowly walked to the pay phone.
The phone ringing interrupted a wonderful movie. It was Ellen Bancroft's favorite movie, Casablanca, and Ellen hadn't seen it in a few years. Every time she had tried watching it, something happened, tonight being no exception. She thought that she would curl up with a bowl of popcorn and hot apple cider. Nothing else was on tonight but a football game.
Growling at whomever was calling at this time, she picked up the phone.
"Ellen, it's me, Hannibal."
"Hannibal? What's wrong?"
"Ellen, there's no easy way to tell you this. Are you sitting down?"
"I am now. What's wrong? What has happened?"
There was a brief pause on the other end of the line as Ellen heard Hannibal take a deep breath. A knot of fear developed in her stomach. Whatever it was, it wasn't good.
"Ellen, Face has been shot."
"WHAT?!!!" All thoughts of popcorn, apple cider, Casablanca and Bogart saying "Here's looking at you, Kid" to Ingrid Bergman flew from Ellen's mind. The only thing that existed for her now was the phone, the leader of the A-team who was calling her, and her brother laying shot in a hospital.
"Face was shot earlier tonight, Ellen. And we couldn't get help for him until a little while ago."
"Why weren't you able to help him, Hannibal?"
"It's a long story, but basically he was being held hostage at a restaurant." There was another pause as Hannibal took another deep breath. "Ellen, I would like you to come up here as soon as you can. We're at DC General in Washington DC."
"I'll be there soon, Hannibal. Thank you for calling me. Bye." Ellen hung up the phone, and started to cry. She called her boss, telling him that there was a family emergency up north that she had to take care of. She then called up the temp service, asking for somebody to do her job for the duration of her absence. She then called the airlines, saying that there was a family emergency that she had to get to. Lastly, she called a cab to take her to the airport.
Since she now wasn't busy, and the rush was over, it finally hit her what had happened. No longer able to control her emotions, Ellen bent over, and started to sob.
Back in Washington DC, the wait continued. It seemed to drag on forever for the members of the team, anxiously awaiting word of their friends fate. Hannibal rejoined BA and Murdock in the hospital cafeteria. "I've called Ellen, she's on her way." he quietly told them. BA looked up from his milk and nodded. Murdock continued to stare into his coffee cup.
Hannibal was very worried about Murdock. Even though he had been declared sane a few months before, Murdock was still emotionally and mentally fragile. Face was his best friend, and he felt guilty about Face being shot. If Face died from his wound there was no telling what he would do. It might be enough to send the emotionally fragile pilot over the edge.
Hannibal sat down next to the pilot. "How are you holding up, Murdock?" he asked, putting an arm around the pilot's shoulders.
Murdock leaned into the hug, seeking comfort from this nightmare. How he wished that he hadn't sent Billy away... "Not good, Colonel," he said honestly. I keep seeing him laying there, his eyes begging me to help him. But he couldn't! If he doesn't make it, I don't want to live either!"
"What kinda crazy talk is that?" BA said angrily. "Little brother's gonna make it. Ya hear? He's stronger then we give him credit for. An' besides, he wouldn't want you to do anything crazy on his account anyway."
"BA..." Hannibal started to say, holding Murdock's head against his shoulder. Murdock had started to cry softly for his friend, letting out all the anxiety and stress that the last few hours had caused.
A few minutes later, Frankie walked up. "Sorry it took so long. I couldn't find a rosary. I finally found a nun, who loaned me one. Then I couldn't find a priest..." Frankie's voice trailed off as he noticed Murdock crying in Hannibal's arms, Hannibal looking devastated, and BA looking at them both sadly. Naturally, the young man jumped to the wrong conclusion. "Oh, no. Face?" Tears ran down his cheeks. After all, he had been Face's friend too.
Realizing what was making Frankie start to cry, BA jumped up to reassure him. "No, Frankie. Ya got it all wrong. We haven't heard anything yet."
"Then why is Murdock crying?"
"He needs to right now," BA answered, shrugging his shoulders. "You said something about a nun?" BA wasn't really interested in a nun or anybody else. All he wanted to do was distract Frankie so that Murdock could regain some control over his emotions.
"Yes, I finally found one. I told her that a friend had been shot, and another one was feeling bad, and that I needed a priest but couldn't find one. She loaned me a rosary, and went to get the priest. After the priest arrived, we prayed for Face and Murdock. I lit a candle for him." Frankie blushed, and shifted his feet. "I, uh, also lit a candle on all your behalves for Face. I, em, figured that you wouldn't mind too much."
BA smiled a sad smile, and put his hand on Frankie's shoulder. "That was real nice of you, Frankie. Thank you."
"Yeah, thank you," Hannibal added.
Frankie looked at Murdock. The pilot didn't say a word. He used his expressive brown eyes to speak to the younger man. Frankie nodded at the unspoken thanks, and sat down to continue the long vigil.
Fifteen minutes and three cups of coffee later, the team was again sitting in the waiting room. Hannibal paced like a caged tiger, angry that he hadn't been told anything yet. Fear of losing the man that he thought of as a son mixed with the sweet feeling of the Jazz, making it impossible for Hannibal to sit down.
Murdock divided his attention between watching his commander and the clock on the wall. 'Funny thing about waiting,' he thought. 'Every second seems like an hour, and the last hour has seemed like a day. God, when are we going to hear something?'
BA watched both men. The last time he had seen Hannibal this frightened was after Murdock had been shot. Murdock had taken a bullet meant for Hannibal, and the wound had become infected. To make matters worse, they were far away from any medical help, and Decker was on their tail. The bullet had to come out. And Face had to sneak onto a military base to steal the medical supplies so that Hannibal could take the bullet out.
They had almost lost Murdock that day. And if that had happened, the A-Team would have been destroyed. Hannibal would have felt so guilty if Murdock had died, that eventually the A-Team would have died too. And without his best friend and security blanket there, Face would have come undone. BA remembered how Hannibal had taken out his feelings of guilt on the lieutenant, and Face had sarcastically answered. But BA had seen the look of hurt in Face's eyes, like a kicked puppy. But in an instant, the look was gone, covered up by the facade and sarcastic wit of the con man.
After Murdock recovered, BA had tried to talk to Face about it, but Face acted like nothing had happened. It was buried within the soul that had been kicked thousands of times, never to be mentioned but always to be denied. And as far as BA knew, it was never discussed between Hannibal and Face. It was the one thing that made BA want to weep for his friend.
As for Murdock, BA was concerned on how sane he was acting. Sane and deadly dangerous, which frightened BA even more. BA knew that beneath that happy go lucky exterior, there was a man who could kill just as easily as Hannibal could. The only difference was that Murdock would have second thoughts about killing after the deed was done, and Hannibal wouldn't. There was something so horrible in the pilots past, something that happened in Vietnam, that Murdock couldn't face until recently. After he faced it, he was able to be declared sane. And was sane, most of the time. At least, he didn't talk to invisible dogs or his socks anymore.
Frankie clutched the rosary, and prayed for his friends.
"Well gentleman, it appears I can't let you out for one night without one of you getting into trouble. Maybe I should re-think giving you this time off." A voice from behind them said in a smug voice.
"You son of a bitch," Murdock said as he stood up, his hands clenched into fists. And his eyes, which were useally warm and trusting like a dogs, were cold, deadly,and dangerous. Stockwell took a step back upon seeing those eyes. Of all the team, Murdock was the most dangerous. A former agent for the CIA, and smart as a whip, Murdock was the one that Stockwell couldn't manipulate.He had his own agenda for doing things, and was very protective of Peck. Instead, he was able to manipulate Stockwell into doing what he wanted, like in the case of AJ Bancroft's diary.
Hannibal quickly put himself between his pilot and Stockwell. No good would have come out of Murdock physically attacking Stockwell right now. And Hannibal thought it was odd that it was usally BA that he had to hold back, and not the normally calm and gentle pilot. But this night was anything but normal.
"I hope that you are joking, Stockwell," Hannibal told the man. "Maybe if he hadn't been so tired from all the missions, Face would have seen the gunman before he was shot."
Seeing the glares of the four angry men, Stockwell wisely backed down. "Any word yet?"
"No, not yet," Hannibal answered. "And it's been over an hour."
"What shape was he in?"
"Very bad. He had lost a lot of blood, and had gone into shock," Hannibal answered. He decided to change the subject. "Any word on Liepster?"
"He has had all those concerned with this crime arrested," Stockwell answered. "Attempted murder on an Attorney General is a Federal offense."
"What about murder?" a soft voice asked from behind Hannibal. All turned to Murdock, who was bending over in his chair as if he had a stomach ache. "If Face dies, it'll be murder."
"No it won't be, I'm afraid," Stockwell said.
"But there was intention..."
"Yes, to kill the Attorney General, not Templeton Peck. The liautenant is a fugitive and convicted killer. If he dies, the man who shot him wouldn't be convicted."
"So, there will be no justice for Face if he dies? Is that what you are saying?" Murdock asked in a low, cold, deadly voice.
"No, Captain, there won't be. The man who shot Peck will never serve time for killing a man on the ten most wanted list if Peck dies. I'm sorry."
"Yeah, sure you are," Murdock said and then went back to looking at the floor.
The wait continued.
"Mr. Smith?" A voice said.
Hannibal woke up. He hadn't realized that he'd been sleeping. He'd been dreaming about Face, and the many times the young man had either played his newphew or son in scams. He looked into the brown eyes of Dr. Simpson.
"How's my boy?" He asked, a bit shocked by his own question. He had never referred to Face as "his boy" before. Except for that crazy incident down in Arizona when Face had mistakingly booked Boy George instead of Cowboy George at an event. Hannibal had made himself up as Cowboy George, and told a promoter not to mess with "his boy, Templeton Peck."
But he did think of Face as "his boy." The kid certainly hadn't been AJ Bancroft's.
"He made it through surgery, Mr. Smith," Doctor Simpson replied. "However, his fight is just beginning."
"What do you mean by that?" Murdock asked.
"We almost lost him twice during surgery, his heart stopped. Because of the shock, his blood pressure plummeted,and some of the systems may have shut down. If that happened, and the systems didn't get the oxygen they needed to survive, which might be the case, could be very bad for him. If the organs are damaged beyond repair, he may need a transplant to survive. He may also be blind, he may have brain damage,in which that case some hard decisions may have to be made, or he may be paralysed. He could also surprise us all and make a partial or full recovery."
Hannibal and his team all sat down slowly as the doctor's words sank in. Face was a long way from being out of the woods and could still die. Or he could spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, or even worse, a vegatative state. Hannibal could handle it if Face was in a wheelchair somehow. He knew that the others could too, as long as Face was alive. They would have to convince Face somehow that he was still a member of the team, despite his handicap, but they could do it. Somehow, the team would remain intact.
But if Face was in the vegatative state, Hannibal wasn't sure if he could handle it. He knew that Face would want the plug pulled, because that wouldn't be life to the young man. But could he, Hannibal Smith, actually end the life of the man he loved the most in the world? Could he put Face's wishes in front of his own? Right now, Hannibal wasn't sure.
"I want to see him," he heard himself say. "I won't give him up without a fight."
Doctor Simpson nodded. Shehad seen many people in better condition die. She had also seen patients in worse condition then Mr. Peck make miraculous recoveries. "I'll take you to him. But only one of you is allowed at a time. OK?"
"Agreed," Hannibal said and then turned to Stockwell. "Ellen is coming here. Can you get someone to pick her up at the airport?"
"Already taken care of, Colenol. I have also changed Peck's admittance forms to James Crighton. Can't having my operatives thrown into jail, now can I?"
"But shot is OK?" Murdock said angrily.
Stockwell shook his head, and left.
Dr. Simpson watched the little drama in front of her. Why did her patient have to have an alias? "Follow me please, Mr. Crighton."
And John Crighton, formally John Smith, followed Dr. Simpson up to see "his boy."
Hannibal stood looking down on the body of his liautenant, too shocked to say anything. Face was a mess. Normally he didn't have a hair out of place, but now his hair was a mess. Instead of haveing a soft tan on his handsome face, his face looked grey to Hannibal's eyes. And Hannibal was sure that if he looked close enough, his lieatenants lips would be blue.
Face had a respirator tube stuck down his throat to help him breathe. An EKG beeped out his heart beat, as IV's fed him plasma, platelets, and antibiotics to fight off infection. Hannibal started gently stroking Face's hair. "Oh God, Face," he softly moaned. He couldn't stand the idea of losing this one. Face had always been like a son to him. When people saw the two of them together, they would always comment about the close relationship between the "father and son." At first it had annoyed Hannibal, and he would say that he didn't have any children.
Until he had seen the look once of Face's face. A look of hurt had momentarily flashed in Face's eyes. He had enjoyed being mistaken for being Hannibal's "son." The look was gone in an instant, but Hannibal didn't forget it. The next person who said anything, Hannibal gritted his teeth and thanked them. Then he had seen the look in Face's eyes, like a childs on Christmas morning. From then on, he had accepted the comments with genuine gratitude, just to see the look in Face's eyes again.
"It's going to be ok, son. You're going to be fine," he softly said. "Just keep fighting. Your sister Ellen is coming up to visit, and your brothers and I are here for you. We love you son."
Suddenly, Hannibal couldn't stand it anymore. He was alone here with Face, and worn out. He had been strong, but now he just wanted to give into weakness. So clutching his son's hand, Hannibal put his head down on the bed and cried.
"G'morning, Hannibal," Ellen greeted the leader of the A-Team when he came into Face's room over a day later. The team and Ellen were takeing shifts sitting with Face for almost a day and a half, talking and singing to him. The shifts were four hours long, and everybody talked about differant things. Murdock went back and forth between apologizing for what happened, talking about his dog Billy who had reappeared, or talking about past scams the two had pulled together.
Hannibal talked about growing up in Michigan, and his favorite fishing hole when he was a boy. He promised Face that after they got their pardons, he and Face would go to Michigan together, just the two of them, and do some fishing. "So, you have to wake up soon, son. Those fish aren't going to wait forever. Or we may have to go ice fishing instead. Would you mind that?" Face didn't respond.
BA talked about the center for children that he was going to start, and how he wanted Face to help him. "After all, little brother, every kid needs somewhere to go." The big man was disappointed that Face didn't respond.
Frankie was the only one who didn't talk about plans for the future, at least none concerning Face or any other member of the A-Team. "Not that I don't love ya, man. But as soon as I get that pardon, I wanta go back to work at the studios. I don't want to chase bad guys and get shot at." So instead of talking about memories with the team, or plans of the future with his new friends, Frankie sat and said the rosaries with a priest.
Even Stockwell visited Face, often when Hannibal was there too. He didn't talk to FAce, however. Instead, he talked to Hannibal a little. He didn't like to talk to somebody who couldn't respond. It was like talking to a dead person, and Stockwell didn't like it. So, he talked with Hannibal, if Hannibal was willing to talk back.
"I just don't understand the hold he has over you, Colenol Smith," Stockwell said. "I think he's a weak person, myself. He's not as big as Baracus, nor as smart as either Murdock or you. What makes you keep him on the way you do?"
Hannibal looked at Stockwell, anger in his eyes. How could this man be so blind to what was around him? "He may not be as physically strong as BA, Murdock, or myself, General. But Face is the strongest member of this team. He believes in the goodness of people, and can forgive just about anything. If I went through half as much stuff as Face has during his young life, I certainly wouldn't be so forgiving. Niether would BA or Murdock.
As for not being smart, he's a very bright person. He can think on his feet, adepting very quickly to what is going on around him. He may not always like it, and will speak his opinion openly, but he will do what he is told and get whatever is needed for a successful completion of a mission. If a con goes bad, he'll turn it around in his favor.
And as for Murdock, he will listen to Murdock's fantasies with patience and humor, often taking on the 'big brother' role when Murdock needs it. Face is Murdock's comfort zone. I sometimes think that he likes seeing Murdock play because he doesn't know how. And both BA and myself have pretty much forgotten how to play, and will only take so much of Murdock's non-sense.
So you see Stockwell, BA is the physical strength of the team. I'm the brains, and Murdock is the child. But Face is the heart of the team."
"Good morning, Ellen," Hannibal replied to the young woman. "Any change?"
"No, but I..."
A soft groan interrupted Ellen's reply. Both people turned to the young man laying on the bed. His eyes struggled to open, and finally succeeded. First person that they focused on was Hannibal.
"Hiya, kid," Hannibal said while stroking Face's hair. "It's all right, kid. Everything is fine. Everybody got out of the restaurant alive."
Face fell asleep.
"Do we give him the nurses phone numbers as soon as he wakes up? Or do we wait?" Ellen asked, tears running down her face. She had been so afraid that she was going to lose her brother for the past day that she couldn't hold back the tears.
"Let's wait till we get him home," Hannibal replied. "Mandy and Elisa can wait. Right now, I don't want to share him with anybody outside our family."
"BA, you threw away my pizza!" Face said as he watched the pizza that Murdock and Gina had brought from the restaurant sail across the room. He had spent a week in the hospital, and had been looking forward to something besides hospital food.
"Don't worry, FAce," Hannibal said while fixing a cold glare on BA. "We'll get another one for you with loads of anchovies. And BA will pay for it, and eat a few slices. Won't you BA?"
BA backed down. He hated anchovies, but seeing the look on his "little brothers" face when he threw the pizza away just broke his heart. For his "little brother" he would eat a gallon of anchovies. "Yeah," was all he managed to say before he went to the restaurant and called in the order to Villa Cuchina.
"What do you want to drink with your pizza, FAce?" Murdock asked, sitting down by Face's head.
"A vanilla shake," the younger man replied. Then he yawned, snuggled against Murdock, and went to sleep.
Many hours later, after a pizza piled high with anchovies, Hannibal carried the young man up to his room. Murdock followed close behind. He wanted to talk to Face before he went to sleep. Soon the two men were alone.
"I am so sorry Face," he said.
"For what?" Face said sleepily.
"I got you shot, Face. If I hadn't pushed you into helping Sal, you wouldn't have been shot."
Face looked at the man seated on the side of his bed. "Come here," he said, holding out his arms. Murdock layed down next to him, laying his head on Face's chest. Face kissed the top of the thinning hair. "You listen to me, HM, and you listen good. You didn't get me shot. Lou shot me, not you. I didn't see Lou with that gun. And if you hadn't asked, those three would have killed the Attorney General, then kill everyone else. You think that they would have left witnesses?"
Murdock softly wept against Face's chest, letting go of his guilt and grief for the first time. "I love you, Face," he said.
"And I love you, Murdock," Face replied, giving Murdock another hug. "But, having your head on my chest makes it hard to breathe. Why not lay down beside me?"
"You got it, Faceyman" Murdock said, lifting his head from Face's chest. He then layed down next to his best friend, and gently took him in his arms. Cradling Face's head against his chest, he said sleepily. "Goodnight Facey." A soft "mmm" came from his chest, along with a soft snore. Chuckling quietly, Murdock cuddled the precious form tighter to him and went to sleep.
There would be no more guilt filled nights.
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