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This page last viewed: 2017-04-26 and has been viewed 3526 times
DATES WRITTEN: March 5th, 2001 -
RATING: PG-13 For Language
DISCLAIMER: Not Mine. Wish They Were,
'Cause They'd Still Be on. No Money Was Exchanged With Anyone, Anyone Real At
Least, For This.
WARNINGS: Mentions Of Suicide and
Attempts, Eating Disorders, And Loss Of Rational Thinking Abilities
EPISODE SPOILERS: Mind Games
SUMMARY: Did The Team Really Go On With
Business As Normal After Face's Fake Pardon?
NOTES: Not Beta'd, Spell-Checked, or Grammar Checked
Beyond My Own Abilities. Also, I Am Not A Mental Health Specialist, Nor Do I
Play One On TV, So There Are More than Likely Errors. Fortunately There Were
Also Lots Of Medical And Mental Health Errors In The Show. (My Mom's A Psychiatric
Nurse in Real Life, So I Know that.) :-D
Face sighed as he watched Murdock as he was reinstated into his
room at the VA and swallowed as the man waved goodbye cheerfully, to
It had taken three days for the hospital to straighten itself out and it has
taken the same amount of time for Murdock to walk back into the VA and admit
that he'd hired for some reason known only to him and then forgotten, a blond
actor to portray him. Face knew the three days wait had been deliberate, and
had been set up by Hannibal,
to no doubt 'let the air out of the Lieutenant's head.'
Face could have
told him that the action truly hadn't been
minute he'd heard the explosions on the General's
front lawn and
Murdock had untied him, the air had rushed out so fast
should have felt the breeze. However, in its passing,
what had been
left in the Lieutenant's head had been only self-
had been mad at Face, enough so not to really talk
to him as he'd
untied the Lieutenant, and that had hurt more than
Face wanted to
even begin to admit. However, even though he had not
reacted or said
as much, he was ashamed of his actions over the
pardon, and he
knew he'd deserved Murdock's anger. He knew he
deserved ALL of
the Team's anger.
And so, he had
suffered through three days in the VA. He'd
and protesting on the first day, but they had just
thrown him in
isolation. He'd picked the lock on the door that
evening, but they
had caught him, restrained him, then sedated him.
The second day
he'd been sedated, and on the third day, they'd taken
him from the
restraints, placed him in a straight jacket, and left
him in isolation.
All of that combined had stopped just short of
into silence. The team had left him completely alone
for the entire
three days, and it was only when Dr. Richter had
finally shown up
from a weeks vacation and checked on 'Murdock' that
Face had finally
been released. He'd spent the last few hours in
as they'd tried to find Murdock, and Face briefly
Richter and Hannibal had been in contact with one another
and had actually
planned Face's incarceration. Face also wondered,
and not for the
first time, if Richter actually knew who Murdock was
and who he worked
with. Face shook his head and decided he was
as he made sure that Murdock was safely squared away
in his room.
He slunk away
from Murdock's room, his head down, his shoulders
slumped and his
hands in his pockets, and didn't hear Murdock call
him back, so
immersed in his own thoughts was he. He wondered if
maybe he should
have talked to Murdock at least for a minute.
Maybe told him to
that Face had indeed learned his
lesson, but then
decided it was better for everyone if he just
disappeared for a
He ran the events
that had led up to his being hauled away as
his mind, and the more he thought, the more
actually became. He replayed in Technicolor and
every event, every word, and every nuance that led to
his pardon, his
reaction, his manipulation, and finally, to his total
shut-out of the
only people that had ever really cared for him.
He shook his
head. There was no way to either excuse or sugar-
coat what he'd
done. After all, he had completely betrayed the team.
It was as simple
as that. He'd been taken in no he'd ALLOWED
himself to be
taken in, and been as blind to it as any green mark on
the street ripe
for the con. He'd truly and honestly thought they'd
especially what-ever-her-name was. However, they hadn't.
He'd let them
manipulate him, use him, and feed his ever-hungry ego
until he'd ended
up betraying and laughing at the finally proven-
valid worries of
He swallowed. If
they were still his team. Face knew that
Hannibal would Not in any way, shape, or form,
behavior, and he
sure as hell wouldn't tolerate it. Especially since
had exposed the team to the C.I.A., General Chao, and
the military. Thank heavens for Intra-Departmental
He swallowed the
lump in his throat. Hannibal and the others had
still come after
him. Even though he had done what he'd done with
the writing of
the book, said what he had about them and to them, and
at them, They had defied the C.I.A. AND Chao to
rescue him and to
save his life. Face knew that had the C.I.A. been
in it alone and the
Team hadn't come after him, he'd have been a dead
man. He owed the
team now, and owed them big time, but had no idea
of even how to
begin to go about paying them back.
He looked up as
he all but literally bumped into the 'Vette and
wondered when he'd
reached it, how long he'd been walking, and at
what point he'd
actually had left the hospital. Good thing Decker
around. Face was disgusted with himself. He would have
been nabbed easy.
Could still be too. All it would take would be
and he'd walk right into their arms.
He fumbled for
the keys to the 'Vette, then saw that Murdock had
left them in the
ignition. He felt he should have been mad, but
anything bad that befell him, especially at that time,
was more than
deserved. And then he saw the manuscript on the front
backward as if he'd been shot, and staggered to one of
islands in the parking lot. Once there, he was
until nothing could possibly have been left in his
system. His body
quaked from the force of his exertions and he
reapproached the car, then stared down at the
was both a mute accuser of, and proof, of his
didn't need to read it to know every word of it by
largely photographic mind could provide any word in any
sentence in any
paragraph on any given page, and every single one
reeked of nothing
but self-centered, self-involved, egotistical
Well, he knew
he'd certainly deserved THAT parting shot.
He climbed into
the car and turned it on, then looked up at
and saw that he was looking at him. Face quickly
looked away, then
peeled out of the parking lot. He didn't want to
think about what
his supposed best friend was thinking of him, and if
it were anything
like what Face was thinking about himself, he
want to know. In fact, right then, all he did know
was that he
wanted to be alone and that he needed to think. He
turned off his
phone and drove to the one place he knew that he
couldn't, be found by any of the team.
He blanked out
his mind, and kept it focused only on the road,
finally turned onto a shoulder. He briefly paused at a
that supposedly kept people from driving onto the
over-looked the ocean, but never did. Normally the
crashed against the rocks far below the sheer drop soothed
and comforted his
frayed nerves, but not that time. That time they
seemed as ragged
as his thoughts as they crashed and crushed
against the jagged, broken rocks below.
"Trai-tor. Be-tray-er." They seemed to say to him as
crashed in. He
closed his eyes, tapped the accelerator and the car
moved forward and
he tapped the accelerator again. He cleared the two
pieces of land
that jutted from either side, and he had a perfectly
clear view of
nothing but miles of ocean as long as he didn't look
too far to the
left or right. He looked over the hood of the car at
the ocean, then
down at his foot. One more tap on the accelerator
would put him
over the edge.
that thought for a minute. Maybe that wouldn't
be such a bad
idea. It wasn't like there'd be anyone to miss him
how he'd acted. His foot hovered over the
Traditionally, traitors were executed, and it wasn't
like he was
afraid of death, or even suicide for that matter. After
all, it wasn't
like he'd never tried it before. Hell, once he'd
made it, except that Father Magill had come back to
early and had managed to save him.
didn't GET to commit suicide. Traditionally,
they were judged
and executed. Maybe, if Hannibal
were still talking
to him, maybe
he'd have something worse than death planned for Face
like a massively
difficult training exercise. If indeed Face were
still on the
team. If he weren't, then there was no need to hold off
his plunge over
the cliff. His world was over. The isolation and
fear he'd felt in
the VA, even through the drugged haze, would be
he knew he couldn't take being turned loose while the
team was angry
righteously angry at him. If he weren't still on
the team, then
Three Tap Tumble, the unofficial name Face and his
gang had given the cliffside overlook, would claim
another car and
another ghost would wail in the caves below.
He picked up
the phone, turned it on, then dialed the familiar number.
cold, angry voice demanded. "This better be you." Face noted the
snarl in his Colonel's voice and he paled as his foot dropped a millimeter
toward the accelerator. Hannibal
was absolutely, totally, and completely pissed, not
that Face had expected any less. But what he hadn't expected was the coldness
in the man's tone.
Face swallowed. "It's me."
hell have you been?!" Hannibal
been trying to
contact you for hours!"
says you didn't talk to him before you left the VA."
"No. Was I
supposed to?" Face had actually meant the question
in all innocence,
but with the mood Hannibal
was in, it was taken as
smart with me, Lieutenant. You are barely hanging on
as it is."
Face said nothing as he closed his eyes. Hannibal
know how close to
the truth he was, as Face's foot sank onto the
"Especially after the last time."
Face's voice was
even and low, though it shook slightly, and he
were the only indications of the inner turmoil that
stomach and made him want to vomit again. "Do . . . do
you want me off .
. . off the team, then?" There was a pause and
Face inhaled and
licked his lips as the breeze ruffled his hair and
Hannibal spoke again.
"I honestly don't know." Face's head snapped up. Hannibal had
said he didn't know! An 'I don't know' was better than an outright
'no', and meant that there was some hope still. "I'm setting up a training
exercise and I told Murdock to tell you to be here at seven o'clock tonight."
eight now." Face said as he glanced at his watch.
of that, and now, so are you."
I had the phone turned off."
you know. I want you back here by eleven
tonight so you,
me, and B.A. can get an early start."
"But Hannibal, that's only
three hours from now. I'm . . ."
want excuses, Lieutenant. I want actions! And the first action I want is you
back here and by eleven o'clock!"
voice booked no room for argument, and Face nodded, even though Hannibal had hung up.
Face cursed and knew he was at least three hours out of
the city as it
was. With the rush hour traffic of people trying to
get to their
suburbs and whatnot, he knew he'd not make it into the
city proper until
almost midnight. And then he
had to pick up some
sighed and knew he'd have to grow wings if he wanted to
meet Hannibal's deadline. He
threw the car into reverse, slipped
back between the
broken guardrail onto the shoulder, then spun off in
a burst of speed,
down the road back to the city.
Face, he did miss Hannibal's
deadline, and by
a good three
hours. He dragged himself out from behind the wheel of
the 'Vette, which had not co-operated with his need for speed,
had run out of
gas just inside the city limits. He'd called
Hannibal, received a cold lecture about better
had been given an extensionwhich he'd also missed.
He pulled his
duffel bag from the backseat of the car and felt the
generated by the manuscript he'd tucked into it under
his clothing. He
walked up to the porch and hesitated in front of
the door. He
didn't know whether he was still able to just walk in
or not, but the door swung almost violently inward,
and made the
whole question moot.
scowled and Face almost backed up and
fled from the
icy-blue eyes that had only ever before impaled the
criminals and NOT
one of the team.
sorry." Face said and Hannibal
one more time and I might actually believe you."
Hannibal stepped away from the door and Face
entered. He saw B.A. as
he turned away
before their eyes met, and Face knew that B.A. too was
angry and that there'd be no support from him.
"We leave in
three hours." Hannibal
announced. "You look like
hell. Go get some
sleep. Doctor Richter said you didn't get much."
difficult with the injection, the straight jacket, and
the coldness of
the isolation room." Face answered and Hannibal
speared him with
his laser-like eyes. Face felt the man's gaze as he
coldly and analytically, almost as if he suspected Face
were again being
wise-mouthed, and desperately wished he'd kept his
mouth shut even
as he tried to cover himself. "But, well . . . I
guess you . . .
if you've already talked to Richter, then you already
He swallowed as a nervous chuckle escaped him. "I just
thought I was
being paranoid. Maybe not."
"And how do
you feel about that, Lieutenant? Do you feel
betrayed? Maybe a
little hurt?" Hannibal
demanded soberly as he and
glances. Sweat beaded on Face's forehead and Hannibal
carefully. Face knew he was being tested, but for one of
the very few
times in his life, he didn't know what to say.
Did he feel
betrayed? Yes, especially when he thought of being
drugged. But did
he deserve to feel betrayed? No way in hell. What
he deserved was
to be pushed over a cliff for what he'd done to his
THEY hadn't told him that. Face latched onto that fact
tightly. In fact,
chosen to make him pay for his sin
via a training
"I . . . I don't think . . ." Face finally shrugged
helplessly. "I don't know." He finally answered truthfully. "I
shouldn't. I guess I'm more surprised . . . yeah . . . surprised . . . than
anything." Face held his breath as Hannibal
have some small idea of how we felt." Hannibal frowned. "I want you to think
about this feeling the whole exercise." Face blinked and nodded at Hannibal, the only
acknowledgment of Hannibal's
words he made. However, inside, his feelings and his insides were in turmoil.
Just what did Hannibal THINK he'd been thinking about for the three days that
he'd shivered in the isolation room trapped first in the restraints, then in
the strait jacket?
In fact, it was
almost as if he thought Face had just forgotten about what he'd done. Was that
really the kind of image he put forth? Did he really have the image that he
could just betray his friends and all that they stood for and just pass it off
as if nothing unusual had happened? If that were truly the case, then what kind
of a person was he, REALLY? Self-loathing and hatred flared in him and he
fought the nausea that suddenly overwhelmed him, but it was in vain and he
dashed from the room. He barely made it to the bathroom before he heaved.
THAT about, Hannibal?" B.A.'s muted voice came
closed bathroom door, and Face listened as he weaved his
way to the sink.
know." Hannibal answered. "But one thing's for sure,
if this team has
a weak link, it's him. Damn it, B.A.! How many
more times are we
gonna' have to pull his ass out of the fire?! It's
not enough that
he's always going off with some girl and getting in
trouble that way!
No! Now he's got to go and pull something like
this! Damn it, he
could have gotten us all caught...or worse,
killed! HE could
have been killed!"
Great. He was the team's weak link. He'd always
felt that way, and with good reason too, but he'd
had to go and
prove it to them. Damn it all to hell, he didn't WANT
to be a weak
link! He'd show them. He scowled at himself in the
mirror. He'd show
all of them that he could be strong. He'd take
anything they could dish out to him on this exercise,
and he wouldn't
gripe and complain not even once about anything.
With that vow,
Face exited the bathroom and rejoined the other two in
the living room.
okay?" Hannibal asked and Face didn't pretend that the
anything more than casual interest.
fine." He answered.
some sleep." Hannibal ordered and he and B.A. retired
to their rooms.
Face went to his room a moment later and opened his
duffel bag. Rather
than night clothes though, he pulled out the
read until the sun came up. When the dawn came, Face
manuscript back and went about his morning routine. He
thought he'd get
a head start on getting some of his points back, so
he made Hannibal
and B.A. breakfast.
As Hannibal sat
down to what was one of Face's better culinary
studied the lieutenant's shadowed eyes and his own
"Did you sleep at all, Lieutenant?" His voice was
Face shook his head.
"No. It was
so close to morning I thought I'd oversleep if I
did get to sleep.
I didn't want to be late."
deeply. "Dammit, Face! When I give an order,
I don't give it
just to hear myself talk. We may not be in the army
anymore, but we
are still out here fighting wars and I need each and
every man at his
best at all times. Do you understand me?"
Face's voice was a croak and his eyes were wide as he
Hannibal and mentally catalogued the situation as screw up
"Yes, Hannibal." He amended, his voice perfectly
didn't know wouldn't hurt him, and Face knew that
if he tried to
choke down a bite of food, he'd only end up throwing
it up. That would
make him look even weaker in Hannibal's eyes,
definitely didn't want to have happen, so he did the only
thing he knew how
to do he lied. "Yes, Hannibal."
"Then when B.A.'s done eating, help him load the van."
Hannibal." Face answered dutifully and went to leave, but
remember dismissing you." The older man said, and Face
Face went to sit back down, but Hannibal shook his
head, and Face
stood at something that resembled attention.
you." Hannibal stood and looked Face directly in the
thinking, Lieutenant." Hannibal gazed at Face
"You realize we had to save you again."
"I know . .
times have we had to do this for you in one form or
"I . . . I don't know. I never kept track." He kept his
expression straight, but the number of times racked up in his head as if on a
computer screen, and his stomach churned as he went into the
"I thought as
much. You know it's a lot, don't you? And you
know this was by
far the worst of them." Hannibal waited for Face to
but Face had no idea of what it was, so he kept
Hannibal's scowl deepened. "This time, you put the
entire team in
jeopardy, Face. We could ALL have been caught or
killed. You are
aware of this, right?"
Was Face aware of
it? He swallowed the bile that rose in his
throat. He was
aware of it every minute of every day. He was so
aware of it, his
whole body vibrated with the pain, shame, and
the memory and the knowledge inflicted. But how
could he tell
Hannibal that? Hell, the man didn't even believe Face
had thought about
it ONCE the whole three days he'd been in the VA,
and he had no
idea of how to convince Hannibal otherwise. Face kept
team, Lieutenant you, me, Murdock, and B.A., all four
of us. What
affects one of us, affects all of us. You know this at
Face nodded, incapable of any other speech at that moment.
also know that like a chain, a team is only as good
and as strong as
its weakest link, or its weakest member, right?"
Face's voice was low, but he kept his eyes on Hannibal.
looking very strong right now, Face." Hannibal's gaze
never wavered and
shame and humiliation burned in Face's body though
he gave no
outward sign of it physically. Mentally he screamed,
although he knew
Hannibal wasn't telling him anything he didn't
already know or
deserve to hear, and he nodded.
me." He confirmed evenly, as his breathing
shallowed, his heart pounded, and his stomach
Lieutenant. You're either with us, or you're not. You
can't have it
both ways. WE can't have it both ways. You've got two
weeks to decide
what you want. You need to decide what you want from
us, from the
team, and you need to decide what you want for yourself."
Face already knew
what he wanted, and he certainly didn't need
two weeks to
decide it. What he DIDN'T know was how to go about
getting it. He
wanted to get back on, and to be able to stay with,
the team. He
wanted to get what little trust they may actually have
had in him back.
He knew he walked a fine line and if he screwed up
at any time
during the next couple of weeks, he'd be out for good.
With a feeling
that bordered on desperation, he searched his agile
solutions to his dilemma.
It certainly wouldn't do him any good to plead. Hannibal would
only be disgusted and the others would laugh, thinking he was only
doing his expected dramatic whining. If he gave the same old sorry
excuses, Hannibal and the others would only get more pissed than they
were already. And there was absolutely no way in any kind of HELL
that a simple apology and/or asking for their forgiveness would or
COULD even BEGIN to make up for what he'd done. Not to mention
that TRUE forgiveness could only be earned through actions and NEVER asked for.
If there were one thing he'd learned at the orphanage, that was it. He could
only ever get the team's forgiveness if/and/or when they offered it and
if/when/or and they felt he'd actually earned it.
So, if all of his
CURRENT behaviors would only make things worse
for him, then
what would some of his PAST behaviors accomplish? He
thought about what he'd done as a child/teenager to fit
into places and
with people, since he'd actually been accepted by,
and into, the
team. However, he knew that his whole future rested on
what he did from
that moment, and he let his mind slide into the one
place he rarely
went, due to the mostly incredible pain it caused
him his own past.
There were two
things he realized that he could do. He could
become the one
personality trait that each of his three friends liked
and bury the
original personality so deep into his psyche it'd never
see the light of
day again if he could help it, or he could just
reinvent himself into one person one completely
and again, dump the original person as if he'd
and permanently. Of the two options, he knew he
enough time to do the second one, and didn't know if he
still had the
ability to do the first. However, he still had to try.
After all, how
hard could it be to pick one personality type his
each like and become that? He had, after all, done it
Before he could
do all that though, he had to figure out what
they, as a Team,
needed from him and keep those traits, then dump the
needed, to make room for the new ones. There were only
three traits he
had that he knew were needed his looks, his
such as it was, and his conning ability. Everything
else about him
could go. He'd already given up the griping and
whining. His ego,
his pride - what was left of either of them, could
go too. So could
his falling for anything with real (or the female
breasts and legs. THAT was NOT going to be easy to
let go, but when
he compared women to what he could REALLY lose,
shouldn't have been all that great of a sacrifice. Also
get-rich-quick schemes could be let go, and so could any and all
as they took his time and attention from the team.
The Team and what
they needed from him had to be his one main focus,
especially if he
wanted to keep his life the way he'd come to know
and like it.
So, what was left
in him? A practically blank slate to begin
again. He looked
at Hannibal in a completely analytical point of
view and quickly
catalogued his likes and dislikes and settled on the
one thing Face
knew the older man liked.
He liked Good
Face had never
really strived to be a Good Soldier. He was a
but had never really made the decision to be a Good
that very moment. It just hadn't been of much interest
to Face to
impress a superior officer with his military abilities.
Also, the regular
'spit and polish' army had never been Hannibal's
either, so Face had never really had the incentive to be
a Good Soldier.
Well, he certainly had it that moment, if never
before, and never
sir." Face's voice was crisp and clean, but he resisted
the urge to
salute as he knew that Hannibal would only take that as
another sign that
Face had not taken himself seriously. Face wanted
to avoid that
scenario again at all costs.
"I'm done." B.A. finally announced, and threw his napkin
onto his plate. "Let's load the van." He stood and left
the kitchen, Face right behind him. Again, Face's aspect showed nothing, but
his mind worked furiously as he thought about B.A..
B.A. had no use for
Good Soldiers. Actually, B.A. had no use
really, especially from Face, and Face wasn't sure he
ever really did.
B.A. was big enough to protect himself and he was
smart. He may not
have been college-smart like Face or quick-smart
like Hannibal, or
crazy-smart like Murdock, but what B.A. couldn't do
couldn't possibly BE done. And the same went for
any OTHER kind of
mechanical repair or building type work. Face
and wondered what B.A. would say if Face ever told
him how much he
truly liked, admired, and respected the bigger man
and how he'd
never felt afraid when B.A. was with him, not even when
the bigger man
threatened him. Face shook his head and sighed. He'd
accuse the blond of handing out lines, and Face frowned.
ya' frownin' at, sucka'?!" Face jolted as B.A.'s
voice cut into his thoughts. "Hannibal said for you to help load th' van,
so help load th' van!" B.A. barked out the order like the good Sergeant he
was and Face grabbed some of the equipment, then followed B.A. again.
He smiled and
nodded as it hit him what B.A. liked. B.A. liked
people who helped
him when he needed it, was quiet, unobtrusive, and
who followed his
orders. In other words, he like an assistant type
mile widened and he nodded.
He could be B.A.'s Good Assistant.
I'm here to Help." He answered confidently and, as
Assistant would, did whatever B.A. told him to do without
Once the van was
loaded, the trip to the exercise ground was
uncomfortable as Face relegated himself to the seat that
Murdock's. When they stopped for lunch, in order to
start on his plan
to improve his looks, he'd decided that he could
stand to lose
some weight, so he ordered a salad. They returned to
the van and
finally arrived at the site late in the afternoon.
"Hannibal, wha's up wit' this place?!" B.A. demanded. "It's
Neither he nor Face were too impressed with what they saw,
and Face thought
that B.A.'s description of the place was generous.
A disaster area
was what he would have called it. It was huge,
but that was
about all that could be said for it. Twenty yards off
the dirt and
gravel road was a ramshackle farmhouse that would have
habitable thirty years before, while forty yards beyond
that was another
building that once might have been a barn. The yard
in front, off to
the side, out back, and between the house and barn
was overgrown, rocky,
and absolutely choked with weeds. To the right
of the barn was a
steep upgrade that led to a flat-topped natural
dyke, while on the other side of that was a
river. There was a
sidewalk that led
from the road, but it was in chunks and was
crumbled so badly
that it may as well not have been there at all,
while the porch
that surrounded the house listed sharply to the left.
gentlemen . . ." Hannibal announced with a flourish of a
our new base, so to speak. This is our permanent
As you can see, it needs a little work." He
incredulous looks that B.A. and Face gave him and
"Now, as to our schedule for the next two weeks. We get
up at four-thirty
a.m., have breakfast at five-fifteen a.m., and on
course until noon. At noon we'll break for lunch until
one, then from
one until four we make the outside livable. From four
until six we
break for dinner and from six until eleven we make the
Tonight we'll set up the obstacle course and
the place and make a list of everything we'll need to
purchase in town
to get this place running."
Fix it up? Make
it livable? Face's mouth fell open. He was
hopeless when it came to carpentry and the like, and
Hannibal - hell,
the entire team - knew it. Numbers, books,
chemistry - all the things that involved mainly brain
work - that was
his forte. Even when they built the things for the
team that B.A.
would come up with, they used Face mainly as the
carrier, the holder, the steadier, the fastener, or
Occasionally they let him weld, but if he'd had any other
tool put in his
hands, he was more likely to injure himself or
When the hell did Hannibal think that Face'd suddenly
become Bob freakin' Vila?
His blue eyes
flashed angrily and he glared at Hannibal who
merely gazed back
coolly and raised his eyebrows. "Problem,
Hannibal asked, his voice even and Face paled.
Damn. He mentally
raged at himself. He'd forgotten. He'd
forgotten that he
wasn't Face anymore. He had no right to be angry
or upset, or even
to question anything that Hannibal told him to do
or ordered him,
or expected of him. He'd forgotten why they were
there and what
he'd done. He made a mental note to read the
the first chance he got, and reminded himself to
forget he'd ever
been a personality even NAMED Face. He wasn't Face
anymore. Not to
Hannibal. To Hannibal he was just a soldier who was
disciplined. Face viciously bit the insides of his lips and
tasted the sharp
tang of blood as he bit back what he'd been GOING to
say and lowered
his eyes in shame.
sir." He answered as he vowed to work harder on being the
Good Soldier he
"We need to
unload the van." B.A. barked. "Especially if we
want to be done
by nightfall. Come on." He motioned to Face who
appeasing smile on his lips and followed B.A. like the Good
Assistant he was.
B.A." He answered dutifully.
Face grabbed onto
his mental notes to himself and held onto them
in both hands
with nothing less than a death grip. When he was with
ceased to exist and when he was with B.A., only the
assistant was firmly in place. In fact, the only
existed was to read and reread the manuscript to drive
the farthest reaches of his mind, the reason he was
himself in the first place. No matter how tired from
activities he was, he always took three hours of his nights
to read. His
lunches were always salads, his dinners only half-
finished, and the
only time he ate any breakfast at all was if
B.A. were up early enough to catch him before he went
out on his own
morning run, even before the official start of the
Almost a week
into the exercise, Hannibal and B.A. stood side by
side at one of
the newly repaired windows and silently watched as
chopped wood for the finally working, wood burning
stove. His breath
puffed from his mouth into visible vapor as his
sweat-plastered themselves to his gaunt figure, and
in every movement, however efficiently he performed
"How long's he been out there?" B.A. asked and Hannibal
hours, almost four. He hasn't stopped once. I told him
I'd get him when
I needed him." He shook his head. "He looks ready
to drop, but like
I said, he hasn't stopped at all, not even to rest."
"Faceman's been actin' real weird, Hannibal." B.A.
"And he's lookin' sick. That ain't right."
know." Hannibal frowned. "I've tried to talk to him, to
find out what's going on with him, but all he says is, 'nothing,
sir,' 'yes, sir,'
and/or 'no, sir'. One more 'sir' out of him and
I'm going to hit
him, I swear I will. It's really starting to piss
me off. I thought
at first he was just doing it to jerk me around,
but his behavior's been too consistent for that, even for
"Yeah." B.A. agreed with Hannibal. "And when he's
with me it's
like he's a whole 'nother person. Just
wears that freaky little smile o' his and does whatever I tell 'im. Never
complains 'bout it and never gripes 'bout nothin'
"I know. He hasn't whined about anything here either."
Hannibal nodded. "Not in the whole time we've been here. Not even when the
shower was cold for the first three days. I think maybe we need to get Murdock
in on this. You know how close those two are. Maybe he can get Face to talk
about what the hell's going on with him."
"You want me
to get the crazy fool?" B.A. asked, but Hannibal
shook his head.
send Face after him. Maybe giving him a chance to
ply his trade'll clear his head." He raised the window and
Face swing the ax
again. "Hey! Face!" He called, but Face continued
to chop the wood.
"Lieutenant!" He yelled louder and Face stopped
in mid-swing. He
snapped to attention and almost cut his leg in the
he didn't seem to notice.
Sir?" He called back and Hannibal frowned.
that!" Hannibal snapped, and Face dropped the ax, as he
interpreted the order to mean stop chopping the wood.
Sir!" Face blanched at the sharpness in Hannibal's voice.
He could tell
something was wrong and he knew it was with him, but he
out what it was. He'd done everything right that he
knew of. He
racked his mind to figure out what he could have done to
but was completely mystified.
here!" The Colonel ordered and Face gathered a large
armload of wood
and carried them into the house, stacked them, then
stoked the fire.
"Tomorrow morning, Face . . ." The Lieutenant
tuned out the
Colonel's voice as he realized he wasn't speaking to
him and continued
to build up the fire. However, he suddenly started
Hannibal's sharp, angry voice broke through his
"Lieutenant! Are you listening to me?!" The
bordered rage, and Face burned his hand on the stove
as he slammed the
door shut with his bare palm, but didn't
pain as he turned and jumped to attention.
Sir!" Face stared straight ahead and fear shot through him as Hannibal's
eyes blazed and he mentally counted another screw-up.
Hannibal's voice thrummed with anger and Face
held himself to a
rigid military precision. "I asked if you were
"Um . . . no Sir." Face swallowed and blinked as his
throbbed with the
pain he'd obviously deserved for not listening to
the Colonel when
he'd been speaking to him. "I wasn't."
that. And because of it, I want you to run an extra
Sir." Face nodded.
"And as to
what I was saying, I want you to spring Murdock
and bring him here."
Sir." Face wanted to ask why, but questioning a superior
officer was not
allowed. He couldn't help but wonder though. He
glanced at B.A.
and swallowed. "However, sir, B.A. and I were to
work on the other
side of the dyke tomorrow and Murdock's room isn't
will be bunking with you until it is. And as for the
yard, I'm sure
B.A. can get along without you."
Face paled. B.A.
COULDN'T get along without him, because that
meant that Face
was expendable and replaceable. And what about
in Face's room? If he did that, then he'd tell
Face's nightly reading sessions, and Face could well
imagine how pissed Hannibal would be about that, considering how he'd
reacted the first
time Face had ignored his order to sleep.
forgot himself and groaned out loud. He hadn't
counted on adding
Murdock's demands to his personality shifts so
soon, as he knew
that the two he had were still shaky. He'd hoped to
have the two
firmly in hand before acknowledging a third, but the
couldn't be helped. He bit the insides of his mouth, raw
repeated mutilations, and tasted blood, and nodded, as he
finally got the
Good Soldier personality back under control.
Sir." Face answered. "But I would like to request
take my run during supper. That way I can be able to
help with the
denied." Hannibal frowned. "You're not eating
enough as it is.
And by the way, I will expect you to eat everything
widened and he blinked back the disbelief and
increduality he felt at Hannibal's gross negligence
stupidity. In order for Face to do what the team needed him
to do, he had to
be attractive. In order for him to be attractive,
he had to be
thin. To be thin he had to watch what he ate. If he
ate any more,
he'd gain weight, and that he couldn't afford to do
not if he wanted
to stay on the team. And he wanted to stay on the
team. His eyes
narrowed suspiciously. Hannibal was more than likely
just testing his
resolve and loyalty, so what should he answer?
Should he give
the soldier's answer or the logical answer? Panic
flashed in his
eyes, but he squashed it and nodded as he decided that
it was not a
lieutenant's place to correct a Colonel's faulty logic.
He chewed his
lips for a moment, then nodded.
Sir." He answered and Hannibal's face flushed angrily and
he turned away
sharply. Face literally froze in place and sweat
beaded on his
forehead as he saw that once again he'd made Hannibal
angry with him,
and once again couldn't figure out how. He almost
bit through his
lip as Hannibal spun back around.
"Is there a
. . ." Face swallowed. "You didn't dismiss me,
"Get out of
here!" Hannibal bellowed.
Sir!" Face actually saluted and all but fled from the
house. He ran up
the embankment to the obstacle course and looked
down into the
dark ribbon of river that seemed to swallow, rather
than reflect the
moonlight and ran a painful hand over his tired
no, exhausted -
face. He shook his head and wondered if what he was
going through was
actually and at all close to approaching a worthy
driving completely over the edge of a cliff.
dinner Face felt B.A. and Hannibal's eyes on him as
he made a point
to choke down his dinner and even had seconds. When
Face felt full - overly so - and he swore up, down, and
crosswise that he
felt every fat cell in his body as they swelled
with the new
influx of food. Almost in a panic, he all but flew
forced himself to throw up every last thing he had eaten.
He sighed as the
mutilated insides of his mouth burned as if on fire
and his body
shook from the violence it had just endured. He forced
himself to run an
extra mile for making Hannibal mad, and then had to
run another one
for returning late.
He made his way
back to the house, and, after a stop in the
bathroom to brush
his teeth, he picked up a brush and smiled blandly
at B.A., who
narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "I figured I'd give you
a hand, B.A.."
Face explained, his voice even. "With two of us
doing this, it'll
take only half the time."
Hannibal growled and Face dropped the brush and stood at
"I want you to get to bed early tonight. You need to get
some sleep if
you're going to make a convincing argument to spring
Murdock. You look
"Uh . .
." Face swallowed and his eyes flickered to B.A.. "Yes ,Sir."
Face swallowed again and dropped the brush, then almost tottered off to his
room, caught between the need to show B.A. how much the bigger man really
needed him, and the need to show Hannibal he could be trusted to follow orders.
However, he knew that he wouldn't be able to sleep until he read the
manuscript, so he turned off the lights, pulled the covers over his head, and,
just like he'd done with certain magazines in the orphanage, he read by
penlight under his blankets. He heard Hannibal and B.A. as they went to bed,
and he lay back and listened to the silence around him. He thought about the
various ways he could show B.A. that he really did need Face, and his eyes
drifted to the window, then to the barn beyond that. There were so many things
he'd planned on doing with B.A. the following day, and they really needed to
get them done, especially if Hannibal wanted the farm up and running on his
Then Face smiled.
It would mean defying Hannibal's direct
orders, but once
B.A. saw what a great help Face really was, he'd put
in a good word
for Face with the Colonel, and maybe said same Colonel
wouldn't get so
angry at a certain Lieutenant. Face dressed quietly,
slipped out his
window, and then went into the barn. He wrapped a
piece of cloth
around the painful, burned palm, that ooze water and
closed the barn door and went to work. He separated,
sorted, and laid
out, very neatly and methodically, everything B.A.'d
needing for the work they were going to do the next day.
The night passed
faster - much faster - than Face had planned for,
and he'd barely
finished, climbed back in the window, and jumped into
a shower before
Hannibal and B.A. were fully awake. Face ran a hand
over his eyes,
and tried to ignore how very badly they ached and
angrily shook off the effects of yet another in a long
sleepless, or almost sleepless, nights. He had a job to do
that day, and
there was no way he could let a little tiredness keep
him from doing
his job. Maybe he could let Murdock drive the van
back to the farm
and catch a few hours of sleep that way.
about the new personality part he had to add to his
sighed. He shook his head and realized that his mind
wasn't as quick
to adjust as it normally was, and that his thought
much slower than usual as well, both recognized by the
fact that he had
trouble formulating ideas, but he knew it was only
because he was
dead tired. However, he'd been dead tired before -
more than he was
at that moment - although in recent years he
recall it, and yet had still managed to function at
He would manage to function again too. After all,
it was expected
of Good Soldiers and Good Assistants to put aside
troubles, not only for their obligations, but also for the
people they were
Face sighed and leaned against the sink, then sighed. As far as
obligations went, Face added a third person to his seemingly ever-
growing list, H.M. Murdock. Face shook his head in consternation
thought about Murdock and what he may have wanted form Face
himself. Face knew of only two things for certain that Murdock DIDN'T need. And
one was a Good Soldier while the other was a Good Assistant.
Face actually smiled as he thought about the enthusiastic, active
pilot. Face had often wondered, privately of course, that if what Society had
labeled as insanity, wasn't just a natural extension of Murdock's child-like,
exuberant soul taking physical form. Face'd never
really looked too deeply for an answer to his wonderment, he had just accepted
the label for Murdock that Society had given him and those like him, and had
never questioned those labels even once. Face tilted his head and focused his
sluggish mind on everything he knew about Murdock's state of mind.
Face knew that
Murdock's three greatest joys were flying, his
maybe more importantly, his dreaming. Face knew from
experience that there was often more to what Murdock said
than just mere
words could account for, and he also knew that
really got a lot of opportunities to share either his
ideas or his
dreams with anyone, because of the label of insanity
that he'd been
forced to wear. He knew too that despite the number
Murdock had at the VA, no one knew him like the members of
the Team did, and
because of that, Murdock was often lonely, and a
lot of times,
desperately so. Murdock was also easily hurt, though
most of the time
he refused to let it show, when people, and
members of the Team wouldn't take any time to pay
either his words or his dreams, or how he felt about
anything. He also
had been hurt by them when they refused to take
him seriously -
the few times he actually WAS serious about
Face, Murdock's supposed best friend, had blown the
man off on more
than a few occasions merely because Murdock's wants
and needs had
interfered with whatever minor thing, like a date or a
the Lieutenant had going at any specific time.
That would certainly be the end of THAT. Murdock
was his friend,
yes, of that there was no doubt. However, in order
to HAVE a friend,
you first had to BE a friend. Well, Face didn't
know if Murdock
would actually want him as a friend any more - hell -
after what he'd
done to them, there was no way he could even begin to
expect that any
of the Team would want him for a friend any more,
but, he could be
could be Murdock's Good Companion.
With that thought
he grinned as he dashed by Hannibal and B.A.,
jumped into the
van, and peeled away from the farm to collect Murdock.
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