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"C'mon sucka. You ready to go yet?" BA growled as Murdock fussed over his bow tie for the thirty-seventh time.
"I gotta look just right, BA. This is a big night. This is the first time we've been able to get Face to leave his apartment since..." He turned toward the big man and smiled. "Have I told you how great you look in a tux, BA?"
"Shut up, fool! Let's go get Faceman." He shoved the pilot toward the door.
They arrived at Face's apartment some ten minutes later and knocked on the door.
"Come in," was the pseudo-cheerful response.
Face greeted them with spurious animation. "Right on time. How'd you manage it, BA? He's always late when I pick him up." He patted Murdock on the back to let him know he was joking. "How did you score these tickets, Murdock? This show's been sold out for months. I know. I tried to get some for..." he stopped, unable to keep up the pretense. "He wanted to see this show."
As the tears threatened, both of his best friends put an arm around his shoulders.
Face tried to smile. "Well, let's get going. Tonight's in *his* honor. We're going to enjoy ourselves."
"Even if it kills us," BA murmured under his breath, low enough that Face didn't hear it. He didn't feel much like going out and he knew Face was hurting too much to enjoy himself. It was too soon after...
The unthinkable had finally happened; they had lost a member of the Team. And for it to be Hannibal! BA shook his head as his own tears threatened.
Gruffly he squeezed his friend's shoulder to show his support. Face looked up and said in a shaky voice, "I'm fine, BA. Ready to go?"
"Yeah, we don't wanna be late for the curtain. You look great, Faceguy. New tux?" Murdock asked as they headed out to the van.
The blond nodded. "I just got it a week before... First chance I've had to wear it, though."
When they reached the familiar looking van, neither Face nor Murdock could sit in the front seat. Didn't matter that this wasn't the original van; it was still Hannibal's seat and no one else sat there. BA had replaced his precious van several times over the years, usually the same make and colors. Different model year, but everything else was the same. The two men took their usual seats in the back of the van while BA drove to the theatre.
They arrived with time to spare. Many of the other patrons had not yet arrived. BA and Face went straight to their seats. They attracted no little attention, due, in part to BA's appearance. In honor of Face's wishes, he had foregone his usual attire and wore a normal tuxedo. With his mohawk, graying as it was, he looked as out of place as he felt. He really didn't want to be here, but had agreed because Murdock was positive it would help cheer Face up. He glanced over at Face, who was smiling sadly at a young woman in the box next to them. BA shook his head. The man couldn't help it; Hannibal had trained him so long to flirt that it was second nature after so many years. Even when his heart was broken.
Murdock finally followed them. "What kind of place is this? Get all bent outa shape just 'cause I asked 'em for some popcorn. What kinda theatre doesn't even have popcorn?"
Face sighed. "Maybe we should have brought our own, then, Murdock."
"Good idea, Faceman. Next time I'll bring my own and we can give some to the others." He waved at the young woman in the next box. She smiled politely and lowered her eyes. "Thanks," Face murmured to his friend.
"No prob. Seems to be my specialty, making the pretty ones look away," Murdock answered with a cynical smile
Face smiled and looked toward the audience.
'See what I mean?' Murdock thought to himself.
The crowd filled in, leaving no empty seats. The lights dimmed and the voice of the auctioneer began to ring out in the Prologue. As the Prologue ended, a booming organ took over, playing the Overture.
The three men settled into their seats to enjoy the performance. Even BA seemed to enjoy himself. By the fourth scene, Face was totally absorbed in the musical. At the intermission, BA excused himself to visit the restroom while Face and Murdock remained in the box talking.
"Thanks for this, Murdock. I do feel better. I suppose I should have gotten out around people a little more."
"No thanks needed, Faceyman. I'm just glad to see you smile again. A real smile, not that one you were givin' that little girl over there when I came in," he teased.
Face looked down momentarily. "Sorry. I guess it's just habit. Even when we were out together, Hannibal practically encouraged me to flirt. He thought it was funny." The sad smile was back.
Murdock reached over and hugged his friend closely, ignoring the looks they received. Face sat passively, remembering his friend, his commander, his lover. During the first part of the second act, all he could do was remember. He kept replaying their time together over and over again until a certain song filtered in to his consciousness.
The woman playing Christine began to sing,
"You were once my one
you were all that mattered...
You were once a friend and father -
Then my world was shattered...
Wishing you were somehow here again...
wishing you were somehow near...
Sometimes it seemed, if I just dreamed,
somehow you would be here...
Wishing I could hear your voice again...
knowing that I never would...
Dreaming of you won't help me to do
all that you dreamed I could..."
Face had to get out of there. He rose and headed for the restroom, ignoring the concerned looks of his friends. He washed his face with shaking hands, trying desperately to fight off the tears that the song had brought on. He had forgotten this song was one of the ones in the show. From the restroom he headed for the smokers' lounge.
His hands were still shaking as he lit a cigar. Somehow the act of smoking one of Hannibal's favorite cigars made him feel calmer, as if the older man were still with him in a way.
Suddenly the clear, beautiful voice of Sarah Brightman reached all the way into the lounge.
"No more memories, no
more silent tears...
No more gazing across the wasted years...
Help me say goodbye."
He smiled through his tears. Hannibal *was* still with him, advising him through that voice.
Someone else entered. Face knew without turning that it was Murdock.
"You all right, Face?" was the gentle question.
"Yeah, I'm all right, Murdock. I just had to get out of there for a minute. That song... Beautiful as it is, it's so sad."
"I'm sorry, Faceman, I forgot about that song. If I'd rememberedÉ"
"You wouldn't have brought me here?" He shook his head. "No, I'm glad we came. I feel much better now somehow. I can't explain it, but just now, when she sang those last lines, it was like it was Hannibal speaking to me." Face smiled as he cried again. "I miss him so much, Murdock, but I think I can follow that advice."
"Advice? What advice?"
Face closed his eyes as he quoted, "'No more memories, no more silent tears, no more gazing across the wasted years.' It felt like Hannibal was here, telling me goodbye. He never did, you know; he never did tell me goodbye."
Murdock smiled and nodded. "Come on, we've got a show to watch."
They headed together back into the theatre, arm in arm.
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