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Deathwatch

DEATHWATCH
by Rita (Ractliffe)

 


RATING:  NC-17, mention of and consensual sex, attempted or carelessness from grief suicide attempt, loss (it seems) of major character, angst, angst, angst, language ­ that "f" word...
Archive:  Okay, but it is still not finished  ..This is a WORK IN PROGRESS to be finished at some point in the future.
Comment card:  sure
DISCLAIMER:  I don't own them, I just work Hannibal to death all the time!  Original characters outside the Cannell universe belong to me... his belong to him, but he needs to do something with them...

DEATHWATCH --  Original :11-17-87;  rev:5-13-94 ;  re-revised April
2000

Inspired by Laura Branigan rendition of Song "How Am I Supposed to Live
Without You?"
ŠI could hardly believe it, when I heard the news today,
Tell me how am I supposed to live without you?
Now that I've been loving you so long?
How am I supposed to live without you...
and how am I supposed to carry on,
when all I've been living for is gone.

Didn't come here for crying, didn't come here to break down...
  It's just a dream of mine is coming to an end...
How can I blame you when I built my world around
the hope that one day we'd be so much more than friends....
And I don't want to know the price I'm gonna pay for dreaming...
  I need you now; it's more than I can take...
Tell me how am I supposed to live without you?
Now that I've been loving you so long?
How am I supposed to live without you,
and how am I supposed to carry on,
when all I've been living for is gone...

"How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" - Laura BraniganŠ

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

"Come on, Colonel, getting out will be good for you."  Face was determined to get Hannibal to join them on a pizza run into town.

Hannibal smiled warmly at his Lieutenant's efforts.  "Thanks, Face, but I really just want to stay here, lie by the pool, soak up some sun. I'm still washed out from that last job."  It was the first time that Hannibal had actually admitted to how very wearing this last mission had been.  His eyes had dark circles under them still and the signs of fatigue were written all over his face.  He was wrapped up in a terry robe and had a tall, cool glass of tea in his hand.

Gaining no ground here, Face decided to retreat gracefully.  "OK, Hannibal, but what combo do you want?  Let us at least bring back one for you."  Hannibal considered for a long moment.  "How about Canadian bacon, mushrooms, olives, onions and lotsa' extra cheese?!"

"Sounds like something you'd order, Colonel.  OK, you got it.  We'll probably see you in about an hour and a half.  The other three guys are going with us.  Abel 6 and Cain 5 are going to stay here.  Maybe we oughta' get their order too, while we're at it."  Face went off to do the necessary.

Hannibal watched with amusement as the motley crew took off.  His two watchdogs then took up residence around the perimeter of the patio. Hannibal really didn't want the feeling of being watched right now.  He could not relax with Stockwell's men eyeballing his every breath. "C'mon guys, I'm not going anywhere... why doncha' go inside and relax a little?"  He went over and picked a comfy lounge chair and sat down, made himself comfortable.  Setting the sweaty glass on a nearby patio table, Hannibal applied himself studiously to getting some well-deserved rest.  The two men seemed to think that he looked safe enough, so they finally did as he suggested.  Hannibal relaxed noticeably once they were gone.  His mind began to play over the mission they'd just completed. It had turned nasty right at the end and he'd been the one who'd ended up being the punching bag.  He closed his eyes and tried to visualize peaceful clouds over a crystal clear Jamaican beach.  But his mind kept tracking back to the Jamaican jungle and the rout they'd found themselves in the middle of.  Getting nowhere in the relaxation department, he decided to take a quick dip in the pool.  The cool water helped to wash off some of his post-traumatic anxiety and he felt muchly refreshed as he stepped out of the pool, retrieved his robe and sandals, and wrapped himself up again.  He lay down on the plush lounger, letting its deep, softly puffy folds envelop him.  His eyes finally eased shut, and within moments he was asleep.

The peace and quiet didn't last long.  Hannibal's inner ear heard the sounds of crashing coming from inside the house.  He didn't think it would be the two guards.  He sat up, instantly awake, his mental alarms sounding off discordantly.  Suddenly three men burst out from the partly open glass doors, firing bursts from the automatic weapons they carried.  Acting on raw instinct alone, Hannibal jumped up, his adrenaline suddenly pumping like crazy.  He tried to make a dash to a large potted tree to get one of the guns they kept hidden about the premises for their own peace of mind.  He almost made it when he felt a sharp sting in his left shoulder.  He barely had time to turn around before the world starting turning dark and he fell forward, all the sounds and smells swirling down with him to a dark, dark place.

 *    *    *

Face, Murdock and BA had been exuberant, filled with high spirits. They teasingly brought Hannibal the biggest pizza they could buy.  It was a monster, meant to serve a large party.  The box alone took almost all of the back seat in the company van.  Murdock had been appointed keeper of the treasure they were now bearing to their lair; god help him if it slid off its tray and the ingredients stuck to the box!  The gargantuan disk had captured their admiration and they were anxious to see the Colonel's reaction to it.  As they pulled up to the outer gates, however, they suddenly realized something was very wrong.  The gates were wide open.  As they tore up the driveway, they saw that the front doors were likewise wide open.  Cain and Abel would never leave the house in that kind of condition.  Stockwell would have their asses nailed to the door if they did.

 Face was out of the van even before BA came to a stop.  The three burly guards were right in-step with him.  As he entered the house, the sight that met his eyes stunned him.  The place had been trashed, furniture tossed about, bullet holes in the wall.  Face was very afraid now. There were no sounds coming from anywhere in the building.

 "Hannibal.  Hannibal!"  Face cried out in panic.  There was no reply. Face ran into the den area to find Abel lying face down on the carpet, blood pouring from a high shoulder wound.  Face bent down, felt for his pulse.  The man was still alive.  "BA!  Murdock!  Somebody!  Get an ambulance.  We've been hit here!  Abel's down."

 The other guards came at a dead run when they heard that.  Face reacted when he heard loud, muffled groans coming from the kitchen area.  He made tracks for the sound, praying that it was Hannibal.  What he found was Cain, lying against one wall, clutching his stomach.  He was still conscious, somewhat coherent.

 "What happened?!" demanded Face.  Cain looked up at him, misery all over his face.  "Five guys broke in, starting shooting everything in sight.  They took down Abel and split up.  Three of 'em went for the pool, the other two took me out."

 Face was feeling sick inside.  He jumped up, made his way out the kitchen door, back through the den and out the patio doors.  "Hannibal! Goddammit, answer me, Colonel!"  Face cried desperately.

 Murdock was ahead of him - already outside.  Face heard a pained voice, "Over here, Faceman.  He's over here."

 Face crossed over to the far perimeter of the pool ledge and then past up into the rock garden.  He suddenly saw two feet protruding from behind a huge century plant in front of him.  "Oh, God... no.  No. Don't let it be..."  He kept moving forward, all the while knowing what he was going to find.

 Hannibal lay face down on the rocky ground.  He'd been trying to reach one of their secreted pistols.  He hadn't made it.  Face came over, knelt down, reached for the pulse point, while looking at Murdock, who shook his head negatively.  "It's not there, Face.  He's dead."  The pilot's eyes were dead... shock rapidly taking hold of him.

 Face wouldn't believe it.  He reached out to turn Hannibal over. Murdock tried to stop him, but didn't succeed.  Face gagged at the sight.  There was blood all over the silver hair and his.... whoever shot Hannibal had not only shot him twice in the back, but used a shotgun and blown away most of his face.  Peck became violently ill. Murdock took Face's shoulder, pulled him away.  "Don't look, Faceman... don't look.  That's not Hannibal... not anymore."  Face was starting to shake wildly to what he'd seen, reaction to the unbelievable viciousness of it.  "My God, Murdock, what happened?  Who could've done this? Why?"

 His voice was small, hurt beyond belief.  Then other things started hitting him.  "We shouldn't have left him.   God, he'd still be alive if we'd been here or made him go with us.  What have we done?"

 Murdock took his friend's trembling shoulders, pulled him up and away, led him back to the house.  Once inside, he forced Peck to sit down on the couch.  BA was coming in - late to it all.  He didn't know yet - but when he saw the carnage and the looks on his two cohorts' faces, he started getting an idea.

 "Hannibal?"

 Murdock looked at him, said as gently as he could, "The Colonel's been shot... He .... he's dead, BA.  He's gone."

 BA looked at him for a long moment, in stunned disbelief.  "No way, man.  Nobody get the drop on Hannibal.  No way, man.  You didn't read it right... maybe he's got a low pulse.  I'm gonna check.  Where is he?"

 Face looked up at him.  "Don't, BA.  You don't want to see what's out there, BA, believe me.  There's no way Hannibal could have survived what they did to him."

 BA wasn't one to believe hearsay.  He had to see for himself.  Murdock and Face watched him sadly as he bounded out the door towards the site where the Colonel's body lay.  Face was fighting desperately for his control.  Hannibal wouldn't want them to fall apart like this for any reason... even if that reason was his own death.  He was shaking like a leaf, totally unaware of it, the adrenalin reaction setting in. Murdock sat on the couch,  beside him, his long legs pulled up into a tight fetal position, rapidly withdrawing into himself, the pain being too much to bear right now.

*    *      *

 Face met her at the airport.  Maggie was still moving around in a somnambulant daze.  Face's call had shaken her, but it still didn't seem real.  Hannibal was invincible.  He'd pulled out of too many nasty squeezes just to be gunned down from behind in his own home... //Stockwell's set-up, damnit.  They would never have gotten that far in Hannibal's OWN home!//  Face had been fearfully quiet, giving her a shoulder to lean on, offering what consolation he could, but she could feel the coiled spring inside of him.  God help him when it finally let go....

 The funeral was held at a small private cemetery.  Face tapped the lists of all the people they'd helped through the years, and found a minister in the bunch who was more than willing to conduct services.

 Stockwell managed to provide security for them so that they could grieve without fear of reprisal.  The floral tributes had overwhelmed her.  The news had spread far, wide and fast through the underground... there were tributes from almost everyone the Team had ever helped. //And Hannibal thought that people didn't really care anymore.  God, I wish he could've seen this.//  But of course, had he been alive to see it, there would have been no need for it in the first place.

 The guys were solicitous to her every need.  Strangely, she found she couldn't shed a single tear.  Whether it was the shock, or Hannibal's legacy of being strong and carrying on for the others, she didn't know, but she remained dry-eyed through the whole thing.  In deference to the sensitivities of the participants, Hannibal's casket had been kept closed; no one would want to see the mutilation done to him.  That had been one of the few things to really bother her.  Why destroy his face if they had already killed him?  It seemed such a senseless, sick thing to do.  She fervently hoped his killers would be found.  She had a few ideas of her own as to what their punishment should be.

 She finally met Hannibal's adopted 'nephew'.  She could see why he was so proud of the boy and his family.  Her sense of loss just kept accumulating.

 [note: More on funeral, different people.  Decker even shows up in civvies... to pay respects to someone he respected as an adversary even if he didn't like him personally. ]

 ***

 "Bangkok was bad enough... Stockwell and his unceasing tricks... but Hannibal survived.  He survived ALL of it, Face... and then to be shot down like a trapped animal... He didn't have a chance, Face, not a chance!  What must he have felt right then?  My God... all alone and helpless.  What a fantasmic joke that must have been for him for that one split second."  Maggie couldn't gasp out anymore... she collapsed into Peck's arms.

 Face held the distraught woman tightly, unable to say anything that would even remotely begin to offer comfort.  Deep sobs racked her body, and she held on to him even tighter.

 ********

 TIME GAP HERE OF ABOUT 3-5 DAYS...

 "The plane... where did you put the jet?"

 "Safe... no one can find it..."  The answer was mumbled, mushed.  The interrogator replied, smoothly, "Yes, we know it is safe.  You are to be commended for your foresight.  But it is now time for it to be brought out.  You must tell us where it is."

 "Ivan... the plane..." the man's voice was confused.  "Not safe anymore.  Too many hands in the pot.  Gotta get it outta the desert. Ivan dead?  Not sure."  His voice rambled on, scattered, incoherent

 The interrogator continued his droning, "You have done your duty.  It is over.  You must give the plane back now.  It is what your superiors wish."  The prisoner's eyebrows knotted.  "No.  Not true.  Gotta keep it hidden.  Forever.  Too much at stake.  Only chip left to play with." His eyes opened suddenly, only to close again instantly against the harsh glare of the overhead lights.  "Where am I?"  he seemed to be coming out of his haze and focusing on the real world around him.

 "You're safe.  You've been brought to a sanctuary to protect you. There are those who want you dead..."

 Again the eyes jerked open and stayed so, in spite of the harsh lights.  "No.  I don't think so.  Two men... shot... me.  Wait a minute..."  his gaze became clouded again.  "Where the hell am I?!"  He began to tug against his restraints, thrashing his legs, trying to get free.

 The interrogator brought over a syringe, leaned down and began to administer it.

 The prisoner's eyes became panicky.  "No!  No drugs!  What the hell is going on here?  WHERE am I!  Who the shit are you?"  Despite his best efforts, however, he could not evade them and in moments the sedative began to do its work.  He felt the sensation of slowing down as the drug coursed through his veins.  "No... don't," his voice grew fainter as the drug wafted him down, down, down to a deep sleep.

 "This is not going to be easy," whispered the assistant.  "This man is known for his resistance.  He is not easy to break."

 The interrogator shrugged casually.  "No matter.  We have plenty of time and nothing else to do with it.  He will break... and give us back what he took.  I guarantee you that."  The cold bitterness of the man's voice gave lie to the easy smile he gave his cohort.  "He will live to regret the day he ever got near that plane."

 Smiling, he turned and walked away, picking up a notebook as he headed for the door.  The assistant followed him, not sure where to go from here.

 The prisoner lay alone in the stark, brightly lit room.  His face spoke of the trouble they'd had getting him this far.  His slow even breathing was the only sound to be heard in the room, aside from the low, harmonic hum of the various electrical devices all around the perimeter.  His face twisted a couple of times as dreams intruded into his drug induced sleep, dredging up long-buried demons.  He mumbled to himself, "No... no.  Don't shoot... "

 *    *    *

 Maggie sat down on the couch edge.  The memory-filled house was beginning to get to her.  She didn't know how much longer she could stand it here.  A knock at the door interrupted her reverie.

 She went to answer it, and was surprised to see Hank Thompson standing there.  His look was all concern.  "Afternoon, Mo.  They told me at the gas station that you'd gotten back yesterday morning."

 "Yeah, the funeral was very early  and I figured I might as well come back on up.  There's nothing there for me now."

 Thompson looked at her warily.  He knew how very much she had to be hurting inside.  He wasn't ready for this calm personage she presented. Not quite sure where to go from here, he inquired gently... "How was the funeral?"

 Maggie raised a controlled gaze to his.  "It was fine.  Face got someone to come in and give him a beautiful service.  Stockwell kept the military away.  We all figure he owed Hannibal at least that."  The resolve was beginning to crumble around the edges.  Hank could see it, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to see it to its completion.

 "Mo... he wouldn't want you to sit like this and eat yourself up..."

 Walking away from him, she tried to keep her voice steady.  "It's okay, Hank.  Hannibal talked to me many times about the possibility.  We both understood how fragile his situation was... how he could be ... gone... in a second.  It's just going to take a little while to adjust to the fact that he's never going to come through that door again."

 Hank went over to her, took her in his arms... cradled her.  "Mo, just hang on.  If there's anything I can do for you, let me know.  Hannibal wouldn't expect you to go through this by yourself.  That's what friends are for.  I know the guys will be there if you ever need them.  I'd like to be part of that ... 'family'... for you if I can."

 She hugged him back, looked at him warmly.  "Thanks, Hank.  Hannibal always said you were one of the good guys...  he really liked you, you know,"  She laughed softly, "that is, once he got over being jealous of you."

 "Jealous?  How could he think anything like that?  We're friends, Mo. I finally accepted that."

 She smiled at the memory.  "You were here all the time and he wasn't... couldn't be.  You'll never know how much that hurt him - that he couldn't be free to come up here and stay with me.  He was always afraid that I'd grow tired of the arrangement and look to someone a little more... 'steady'... dependable.  He'd had another woman do that to him, expected no less of me.  Silly man.  He was everything I wanted, even if I had to take smaller doses than I would have liked."

 Hank gave her another squeeze.  "He was special, Mo.  Everyone who ever knew him knew that.  And he did love you.  We could all see it.  Damn it anyway!"  Hank held her tightly to him.  He could feel her starting to shake under his grip.

 Maggie pulled away from him.  "I think you'd better go, Hank.  I really need to be alone.  Thanks for coming.  I appreciate it."

 Hank looked at her with consternation.  "Are you sure you're going to be alright, Mo?  It's no problem for me to stay."

 She smiled bittersweetly, "No, I really just need to be alone for awhile.  I'll call you in a couple of days, OK?"  She was trying very hard to smile for him and not succeeding too well.  Hank realized an impending breakdown was upon her and knowing the therapeutic value of tears, decided to oblige her.  "If I don't hear from you, I'm gonna' be back up here, you hear?"  She nodded.  He went for the front door, opened it slowly, looked back at her and then left, shutting the door behind him.

 She watched him leave, remembering other times when Hannibal had gone out that door, looking back at her one last time, filled with regret at having to leave her.  The remembrance was too much.  She sat on the couch, reached for one of the pillows, hugged it tightly to her.  And then the tears, unbidden and so long held in check, started to flow. Deep, racking sobs shook her body, and she gave way to her grief, clutching the pillow desperately, holding it close to her, her tears soaking it through.

 *    *    *

 The prisoner lay on the table, helpless, watching as the interrogator came towards him again.  He kept shaking his head.  "No.  No... I can't tell you anything more about him.  The truck was blown to hell.  He should've burned up inside.  I can't..."  He suddenly bit down on his lip as the interrogator injected him with a fluid.  Sweat was over his face, running into his eyes.  "Why?  Just tell me why?  I don't know a goddamned thing about Ivan..."  His eyes widened in apprehension as he saw the interrogator lift up the head sets and begin to attach them to his temples.  "NO!" his scream of negation turned into a howl of agony as the interrogator flipped the switch and sent a powerful jolt coursing through his body.  Arching up in a contorted pretzel, he fell limp against the table as the switch was aborted.

 The interrogator leaned down, next to his ear, and whispered to him. "You were there.  You know what happened.  You will tell us."  He stood up and looked down caustically at the wilted man beneath him.  "You WILL tell us, comrade.  We can keep you forever.  Your friends think you are dead.  No one in the world knows or cares about you now.  You are halfway across the world.  You cannot escape, you have no recourse. You will tell us.  We have plenty of time, and electricity is cheap and plentiful.  We will keep you alive forever this way.  Do you really wish to continue your existence like this?"  The man purred at the hapless man.   The prisoner shook his head, but whether in answer to the interrogator's last question or in defiance, still, to his questions, was hard to tell.

 The prisoner cried out suddenly, in surprised shock, as the interrogator casually flipped the switch yet again.  He left it on a fraction longer, watching curiously detached, as the man's body performed contortions generally thought impossible.  Again the switch was flipped off.  Again the man became limp and inert.

 "We can do this over and over and over.... think about it, Colonel. Is this life worth living?  A simple answer or two..."  He peered down at the man's face to realize sourly that he'd been sent over the edge and was unconscious.  "Release him, take him back to his cell.  When he awakens, feed him and then bring him back."  He watched curiously as the guards did his bidding.

 "What if he knows nothing, Kargin?  The reports said that Ivan was killed in the explosion.  Was not the plane the cause of the explosion? Perhaps that is the truth."  Anatoly was concerned.  Blatant torture was not one of his pleasures in life, unlike his superior, and it seemed senseless if indeed the man knew nothing.

 "Do you think we went to all this trouble on a wrong tip?  Two years it took to create his double; two years to perfect this plan so that no one would make any effort to search for him.  His band of mercenaries are among the best.  Without our plan, do you think they would have sat complacently and allowed this to happen?  He knows the answer.  He was there.  General Stockwell is too wily to have a witness that he could not control.  No, our friend here knows, and he WILL tell us."  Kargin smiled waspishly at Anatoly.  "Besides, it is such amusement to watch him, nyet?  He who has been so impervious to everyone in the past... now helpless.  I enjoy it, Anatoly.  I wish only that I could share it with his friends.  Perhaps we should take film of this and send to them when he has finally died.  Yes, I think that would be a fine way to repay their interference."  He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "See to it. Bring in a camera man and film and capture some of his interrogation."

 Anatoly shuddered.  Kargin was mad, no doubt about it.  He desperately wished he could arrange a duty elsewhere, but for the time being he had to remain here; it was becoming harder for him to do so, however.

* *

Murdock had called in a couple of long-owed favors, and now the sleek {type name] jet was his for the afternoon.  He'd wanted nothing so much as to escape the earth and all the heartsick memories he now had.  He wanted to fly, fly, fly, and perhaps put to rest the sorrow his friend's death had brought.

 His hands moved automatically over the instruments, caressing them, urging them, cajoling them.  The plane rose higher and higher... his spirit gradually began to soar with it.  He kept trying to see Hannibal's face out in the clouds... hoping his friend would say one final admonition to him... bid him goodbye, let him know he wasn't angry at them for leaving him.  He'd searched and searched and searched, doing rolling barrel rolls, loops and spins, pushing the plane to its limits, exulting in the almost erotic control he had over the machine.

 The exuberance finally began to draw him ever upward, and he found himself flying higher, and higher.. he could reach Hannibal, he knew he could if he could just fly high enough!

 [on and on in this vein  - he may get giddy and nearly crash himself... startling him into realizing where he wants to be... on the earth with his friends, or in the sky forever after.]  He will choose LIFE and his friends as testament to Hannibal's legacy and love, but the decision won't be an easy one ­ life will never be the same again.  He'll go through the usual flashback route remembering and paying homage to his madcap leader.  He'll finally commend Hannibal's spirit to God, and return to earth to the Team.

* *

Maggie sat at the back of the barstyle.  She had her head resting on one upraised crooked arm, the other lay limply in front of her on the dark rich wood.  The barkeeper came over to her.  "How'ya doin' doc?  Need a refill?"

 Maggie looked up at him blearily, "Yeah, Mac.  Gimme ano'er one'a thesh."  Her speech was slurred and heavy.  Mac debated whether he should but he knew she'd be walking home, a couple of blocks, and would pose no traffic problem.  He took her empty glass and went off to refill it.

 Maggie looked up and saw her haggard reflection in the mirror.  Her hair was limp and stringy, her deepset eyes had dark shadows around them, her cheekbones stood out gaunt prominence.  She stared at the wrecked visage across from her with a bitter stare - that couldn't be her.  She was bright, perky... why Hannibal always said...  She shook her head, shocked -- //Hannibal... Hannibal... damn Hannibal.  He'd gone and left her.//

 Mac came back with the drink.  "Here'ya go, doc.  Don't drink it too fast.  Don't want ya to get dizzy."  Mac was trying desperately to make humor, but he knew, like everyone else, what was eating up the doctor. Her man had been killed in Los Angeles; gunned down in a lowdown dirty ambush.  She had not been able to get over it, no matter how hard she tried.  She still kept the practice going, but with a half-hearted effort.  And once the clock hit 4:00, she was over here, starting the afternoon and going late into the night, drowning her sorrows in an alcoholic haze.  No one could seem to get through to her anymore.  Hank Thompson had grown increasingly worried over what he could see happening in front of his eyes, but even he couldn't seem to reach her anymore. They were all worried about her.  But then, you were asking for heartbreak when you hung out with an outlaw type like Hannibal Smith. Even if he was one of the "good" outlaws, misunderstood, mislabeled, whatever, it all came down to the fact he *was * on the run, and he had involved this woman in his very precarious life.  It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and everyone could see what was coming a few years back when he'd been injured badly in Southeast Asia and the good doctor had spent weeks and weeks over there somewhere, taking care of him.  //It shoulda been a warning, doc.  A sign of things to come.//  But she always said she could take the bad with the good.  //easy to say...// he thought bitterly as he looked at the once handsome woman at the end of the bar.

 The door opened and several new customers came in.  The Monday night football games were on, and the pub was a magnet since Mac had installed the big-screen tv off in the far room.  He smiled as the room slowly filled.

 Hank Thompson was one of the newcomers.  But he wasn't interested in football.  He cast around the room, finally finding what he was searching for.  He headed over to the corner where Mo was sitting.

 "Mo..." he pulled up a stool beside her.

 She looked over at him.  "Hank."  Her voice was flat and unfeeling.

 "Went over to the house and couldn't find you.  We have a kid who cut up his hand over on the Paulson place.  We need you, Mo."  He earnestly implored her.

 "No... no one needsh me... all finished -- bein' a doctor an' stuff... Just brings pain... no one cares... all go away.."  she swirled her finger in the drink watching the bobbing ice cubes with rapt fascination.

 "I need you, Mo.  More than I can say."  Hank was letting some of his innermost turmoil out with the statement.  Since Smith was gone, there was nothing to stop him now from trying once again to win this woman he'd loved for years.  While Smith was around, it was a point of honor... you didn't mess with another man's woman -- even when that woman was the reason for your existence on the planet... even when that woman was totally oblivious to your feelings.  If you had to settle for second or third best and just be a friend -- then fine, you were a friend.  The best goddamned friend she'd ever have.

 He reached up and gently stroked her jaw, continued up and wrapped his fingers in her greasy hair.  She suddenly snapped to.  "Stop that." Her eyes were blazing.

 Hank knew exactly what he was doing.  He'd watched Hannibal cuddle with Mo often enough to know this was one of his favorite gestures.  She loved it... when it was Smith's hand.  He kept on, ruthlessly.  If he couldn't snap her back with love, then he'd get her fired-up angry. Anything to make her snap out of this deadly depression she'd sunk into.

 Her fingers suddenly wrapped around his wrist and she slammed the offending member away from her.  "Don't ever... ever... touch me like that again... do you understand?  It won't work, Hank.  You're not Hannibal, you'll never be Hannibal and I won't take ..."  suddenly her eyes filled and spilled over.  She began to cry.  Thompson left his stool to stand beside her, to take her shaking shoulders and hold them tightly.  She didn't resist.  They stood for a long, long time until her weeping had subsided.

 "Feel better, now?"  Hank asked as gently as he could.

 He felt her muted nod on his damp shoulder.  "Some.  I guess I oughta' go home... seein' as how I'm makin' a public spectacle of myself."

 Hank caught on that... "Huh?"  As he stepped back, still holding onto her arms, he saw her glance over his shoulder and into the room behind them.

 A roomful of guilty, covert glances suddenly became very busy as everyone tried to look busy - doing something else besides watching the sheriff and the doctor.  Hank smiled tightly to himself.  If he thought for a second he could get anywhere with her, he would make himself the biggest laughingstock in town, if that was what it required.  He reached for a napkin and brushed away the glistening dampness on her cheeks. Then he threw done some bills and wrapping his arm tightly around her waist, escorted her out of there.

 The crisp, fresh air helped to steady her.  Hank was finding it nigh onto impossible to refrain from stroking her, caressing her.  She was still three sheets to the wind, and in no condition to be molested. They walked in companionable silence, although Maggie stumbled a couple of times.

 Finally at her front porch, they stopped long enough to get the door open.  Maggie stood in the doorway, barring him entrance.

 "C'mon Mo.  I just want to make sure you get to bed safely."  The sheriff's words were genuine.  He was very concerned about her, as a friend.

 "Sure ya'do.  I wasn't born yesterday, Hank.  You think I'm too drunk to say no..."  She stopped for a long moment and then seemed to have a mood change.  "Oh, what the hell.  C'mon in, give you a nightcap."  She swept into the room, leaving him standing there.  She dropped her bag and keys on the floor and headed for the bar.  Thompson came in, and closed the door behind him, picking up the dropped items and putting them on the bureau near the door.

 "Mo, I think you've had enough of that tonight."  He said carefully.

 "No.  Never have enough... not enough bottles in tha' worl'."  She pulled out a large bottle of brandy which was 2/3 empty and poured two stiff shots.  He was appalled to see a trash barrel off towards the kitchen, half full of empty bottles.

 In two steps he was over to her, and forcibly took the glass from her hand.  "No, dammit.  I won't stand here and let you drink yourself to death... over *him *...  he's not worth it, Mo.  He never was."  Hank wrestled with her as she defended her right to the drink.  Before either of them knew what had happened, Maggie had dropped the glass and wrapped her arms around his neck.

 "Hold me.  Hold me and kiss me... please."  Her lips began to seek out his and her strong arms pulled him down into her embrace.

 For a moment, Hank panicked.  He wanted Mo, more than anything in the world, but not like this.  Then her lips found his and she began to deep kiss him.  He tried to pull away but it was getting more difficult. "Mo... not like this..."

 She suddenly pushed him away and looked at him haughtily.  "How then? How do you like it, Hank?  Rough?  Kinky?  Hey, I'm just Smith's whore, so I should be up to anything, right?"  She began ripping her blouse off, sending small buttons flying across the room.  She stood there bare-breasted with her hands on her hips, blatantly offering herself to him.

 Hank stood there in shock.  He wanted her, God knew how he wanted her - for ten years or more, he'd wanted her.  But not like this.

 "Mo.  You don't mean this.  It's the liquor talking, not you.  You need to go to bed and get some..."

 "Good hard fucking!  That's what I need.  Hannibal can't give it to me anymore, so you're next in line, sweetie.  It can't be that hard to do...surely?  I mean, I know I'm used goods, but I've still got a little life left."  As she talked, she continued to strip off her clothing until she was standing before him totally bare.  "Is it that bad to look at?  Hannibal couldn't keep his hands off..."

 "Hannibal, Hannibal... that's all I ever hear from you.  He's GONE, goddammit!  Face it, Mo.  He's not coming back.  You're a doctor... he's six feet in the ground and worm bait by now.  You have to live, Mo. You can't lock yourself up idealizing him... he's decomposed, rotting, stinking meat now."  Hank was pulling out all the gaps to try to get her to snap out of whatever plane she had slipped into.

 She looked at him for a brief second in horror, the description bringing up another memory ­ that of her fiance in 'Nam, Brian, who'd been brought in to be shipped out after spending 3 days in a downed chopper in an overrun landing zone.  She'd not been told who was in the body bag and had opened it up to find him there, decomposing and with maggots busy at work.  It had sent her unconscious and she'd never quite recovered, at least with dealing with body bags.  And to now have that same image slammed into her mental imagery of Hannibal in the same condition just flipped her out.

She was all over him, scratching, slapping, trying to hurt him as much as he had just hurt her.  He held her off for a few moments, then she went limp.  Sighing gratefully, he hoisted her limp form and carried her to the back room.  He lay her down on the big bed, thinking of all the times that Smith had done the same.  All the times that Smith's hands, those long slender fingers, had caressed that body, explored it, brought it to excitement and frenzy.  He shook his head violently. He couldn't think these thoughts right now.  He felt his control slipping and knew he could not give in to what was so available in front of him.  He went to her dresser, pulled out a serviceable flannel gown, went back to the bed began to pull her blouse up and over her head and arms.  As his fingers lightly brushed against one of her breasts, he felt a pressure surge in his groin.  //No, Thompson... you don't do it this way.  You'd be no more than a rapist.//  As he tugged and pulled the fabric down, his mixed feelings intensified.

 Maggie suddenly came out of her stupor, to see him there, trying to get one of the sleeves over her arm.  She reached for him and pulled him down to her.  She began to kiss him wildly and to pull at his clothes. His resistance was gone.  Within moments, she had him stripped and began to press and rub against him.  His last coherent thought was they were going to regret this in the morning.

 *******

 Hank awoke to see Maggie curled in his crooked arm.  She looked so young and peaceful, lying there.  He remembered the night before -- the intensely passionate lovemaking that he'd only dreamed of for so long. He smiled softly.  //No wonder Smith couldn't keep away... she was one helluva woman!//  He adjusted his position and woke her. She stretched like a cat and then opened her eyes.  Horror and panic began to fill them, when she saw who was beside her.

 "Hank?...Oh god.." she whispered.  Her eyes began to fill with tears.

 "Mo... it's ok.  It's ok.  You needed someone last night, and I was here..."  It sounded lamer than hell in so many words.  He'd taken advantage of her inebriated condition and fucked her silly.  No more, no less.

She pushed him away.  "Oh god, what have I done?"  She sat up and looked around the room, then dropped her head into her hands.  The sour alcohol at the back of her throat didn't help any, nor the mad buzzing of her head.  She reached for a robe beside the bed, and got up, wrapping it around her.  She propelled herself to the bathroom, where she stayed for a long time.

Thompson was feeling very insecure now, and got up and retrieved his own clothing.  He was almost finished dressing when she came out.

 "Hank, I'm sorry.  I don't know what I did last night, but I'm sorry." She looked bleakly at the rumpled bedcovers.  "I don't remember how that happened.  I didn't mean..."

 He cut her off.  "Mo, the blame is mine.  You were drunk and got crazy... I guess you wanted Hannibal... and just settled for whatever else was sitting around at the time.  I'm sorry... I should've left, I should've been able to be strong and say no... but after you kept throwing yourself at me... after you stripped and nearly raped me, I just couldn't walk out that door."  He bowed his head, a flush creeping up his features.  "Mo, I love you.  You know that... you've always known that.  What I did last night wasn't love... just plain lust... and I am so sorry."  He looked up at her, "and I apologize, and will apologize as long as you want.  But don't cut me off, Mo.  Don't send me away.  You need someone around now... I just want to be here for you."

 Maggie shook her head, "No, Hank.  I'm sorry for whatever I did last night.  I musta' really been skunked.  But I love Hannibal... and whether he's dead or not, doesn't mean I'll stop loving him at the push of a button and turn right to you.  I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work that way."  She sat on the end of the bed.  "I think you'd better leave.  You don't want to start any gossip."

 He tried desperately to think of something to say, to ameliorate what had happened, but could think of nothing.  He picked up his shoes and left for the front room.  She heard the door close a few minutes later.

 Depressed beyond belief at what she had done, she went out to the front, picked up a sign which advised "Clinic Closed Today" and hung it out on the door.  She then headed for the bar, and picked up the bottle of brandy.  She took the bottle and went back to the back of the house, hell bent on wiping out all her memories today.

* *

 He shook his head adamantly.  He was NOT going to be hooked up to that damnable machine again!  With a sudden violent twist, he slid out of the chair and the grip of the interrogators and aimed for the electric source across the room.  His balance being anything but steady, he weaved and wobbled his way across, knocking over several things in his path.  As he made his erratic journey, hellbent on reaching the torturous machines at the far wall, he started a domino effect of destruction as a cabinet toppled over into a bank of electronic [mixers] shorting them out and sparking everything else attached to them.  In moments, the place was seriously ablaze, with flames leaping up from the abused wiring and finding sustenance in all the chemicals lying freely about the room.  Kargin swore furiously, realizing he had a disaster here.  The prisoner seemed oblivious to it, still aiming only for the electro-shock device.

 "What do we do, comrade?  We must get out of here.  The building is going to go."  Anatoly's eyes were filled with fear.  "What about him?" as he pointed to the cause of their downfall.

 "LEAVE him!  Let him burn in hell... the hell he has created."  Kargin cast a last hateful look at the older man, and then followed his assistant quickly out the door, slamming it behind him.  He heard the muffled roar as things began to explode.  "Survive that, [asshole- russian equiv.]

 Inside, the prisoner finally tuned in to the sounds around him, turning back to see the room fully engulfed in flames.  "No.  Not like this..." he tried for the door, but the heat coming from it dissuaded him. Turning back helplessly, he surveyed the room for any other possible escape routes.  He began cough violently from the toxic smoke rapidly filling the room.  Covering his nostrils with his sleeve, he tried to see anything that would be useful.  The only thing remotely possible was a windowed closet at the far end of the room.  Heading for that, he was barely inside the doorjamb when the whole room went critical in a loud rush of flame and air.  The unstable pressure whooshed by him, carrying him headlong into the back wall -- knocking it out and dumping everything near it outside the perimeter.  The prisoner was unaware of his salvation, though; the concussion of hitting the wall initially rendered him unconscious.  He lay there as flames and smoke rippled and whorled around him, debris flew by him and fell over him, and finally the whole cataclysm died down.  He lay in the smoking rubble, face down, apparently dead to the world.

 ****

 Maggie sat at the kitchen table, looking at the half-filled glass in her hand.  She'd found herself becoming more despondent than ever after her last talk with Face and the Team.  She hadn't had the guts to tell them how she'd ended up with Hank... she increasingly felt like the whore she'd painted herself to be to Hank.  Hannibal wasn't even dead a few weeks, and here she was, in the sack with the first man available. She didn't hold Hank responsible.  After she'd sobered up from her roaring drunk the next day, she'd talked to him, listened to what he said.  He was mortified at having given in and bedding her.  From all accounts, she really HAD nearly raped him where he stood.  She couldn't blame him -- you could only push a good man so far -- and she had.  It hadn't helped that he was still so crazy head-over-heels in love with her after all these years - his resistance had just been worn down easier.

 The more she let her boozy haze envelope her, the more she came to convince herself that she really wasn't worth keeping alive anymore. Hannibal was dead, and despite all her well-intentioned statements that she would be able to cope with that fact, when it became reality, she simply could not face life without him.  The Team had their own grief and readjustment to deal with, and she did not think she was a necessary part of them anymore without the madcap Colonel acting as the buffer between the two factions. They didn't really need her; they never had, other than to patch and fix them up in a medical sense.  They'd been tight before her, they'd be tighter after... without her.  Her practice had nearly fallen to zilch since her recent erratic work habits... call it what it was, Sullivan... your drunken binges... had pretty much alienated most of the folks around Bad Rock.

 She slowly swirled the melting ice cubes in the glass with her finger, watching the ripples they made in the amber liquid.  She was tired, she was deadly weary of life anymore, and just wanted to sleep... to sleep and have no more of these bitter memories and realities.  The idea seemed to take her over... to sleep... and with a flash of recognition, she headed over to the pharmaceutical cabinet in her back-room surgery. She found what she was looking for -- ["name", a potent sleeping pill]. She poured out a couple into her palm.  Sleep -- yes... this would do it.  Then on a second thought, she poured out a couple more.  Yeah, really conk  out.  Then accidentally making a life-altering decision, she took the whole bottle and carried it, along with her drink to the back bedroom.  She stretched out on the bed, then began to take the pills, washing them down with the Scotch.  In a mindless repetition, she poured out and then lifted and swallowed pill after pill after pill. Finally reaching the end of the bottle's contents, she decided sleepily that should be enough.  That should knock out a horse. . She just wanted to sleep for a long while ­ forget the pain in her heart.  She'd wake up soon enough to have to bear it again.

 She lay down on the thick comfy down quilt, remembering the happier times when she and Hannibal had snuggled below its warmth and security, making long hours of slow love on cold, bleak winter nights.  She smiled at the thought. That's where she belonged... in her memories... that's where she'd go... and slowly released her grip on the real time that was so cruelly harsh; where life without Hannibal wasn't worth the living. As her mind drifted slowly down a long tunnel that seemed to promise peace and tranquility, her sensible mind desperately thrust in one last message. She was supposed to meet Face and the Team today, to go over paperwork Hannibal had left in her behalf... they would be coming to get her ... soon.  She couldn't sleep now...

 But the potent overdose of drugs had done its work, and Maggie merely pushed away the annoying thought... as she sank further and further down... Face will understand... she was so tired... he could understand that... paperwork could wait... and she finally released her last tenuous hold on the bonds that had held her here for so long.

 *    *    *

 Face banged on the door.  Maggie had to be here; the Jimmy was in the driveway, she couldn't go far without it.  Murdock and BA stood on either side of the door, expectantly.  Face shook his head. "I can't imagine where she would be... god, we must have raised the dead with all this racket!"  Peck grumped loudly.  He tried a few more well-placed bangs and then turned and leaned against the door, pissed.

 BA looked at his two cohorts for a long moment, and then carefully offered, "She been goin' to the bar a lot lately.  Maybe she be down there."  He knew his words would infuriate the other two men, but it was a fact of life anymore.  Maggie had gone off the deep end, finding release from her pain - - solace in a bottle.  They all hated it, and could find no way to stop it or change it.

 "Shit." Peck swore softly, then looked Baracus full in the face. "I can't believe she'd be down there this early... c'mon BA, that can't be it..."

 Murdock's soft voice came in.  "Y'know she hits it as soon as it opens.  It's been open for a couple of hours now, Faceman.  That's probably where she's at.  We can go get her and bring her back." His eyes were pained.

 Maggie Sullivan was part of them, and it hurt deeply to see how badly Hannibal's demise had destroyed her.  It was never supposed to be that way... and Hannibal would have turned over in his grave had he even suspected that she would end up like this.  It just hurt too much... the doc always took care of everyone else's hurt... Hannibal was the only one who ever took care of hers... The pilot regretted that they hadn't come around more often themselves, but it seemed since Hannibal had so little free time, when he did have time to spend with her, he deserved quality time -- and that most emphatically did NOT include them. Although Maggie always welcomed them all with open arms... it wasn't nearly as "uncomfortable" as it could have been -- those nights when they were all bundled up in sleeping bags, camped out on the front room floor beside the fireplace, and she and Hannibal were making magic in the back bedroom. Hannibal had relaxed slowly and let down his guard after so long under her caring tutelage, and found love to be something he could share -- with her and with them.  It was something missing in his life for many years.  The Team loved each other - of course - they were family.  With their situation, all they had was each other... and after 20 some-odd years, it was real close and tight-knit.  But Hannibal had never quite had the successes the others had in the field of scoring with the fair sex... partly due to his innate distrust of most of the women who came onto him... after so many turned out to be plants for Decker and his pals. About the only other woman Hannibal had given in to had been the perky and brash fire captain, Annie.  They had each recognized a kindred spirit...

 Hannibal had had a few flings back in 'Nam... but even then, most of the women were more interested in just scoring points by getting a date with the unorthodox and mysterious Colonel; few were really interested in the man himself.  Hannibal seemed to manage without sex, but Murdock often wondered how.  Once they were on the run, any hopes of a "normal" life had gone flying out the courtroom window... and Hannibal settled into his pattern -- never expressing regret, need or anything else... until he'd met Maggie, and been swept off his feet.  A six month lapse between meetings, his being so sick he was helpless on several of them, made for a rocky beginning... but Maggie likewise was fascinated by the man behind the legend, and waited for him.  When he finally felt secure, trust always being hardest part of himself to give away, she'd received the pent-up love and affection of 25 years.  But Hannibal would never cause her grief knowingly, and had he even suspected how very desperately she loved him -- to have brought her to this -- he would have cut the romance off long before simply to spare her.

 His mind snapped back to the present by Peck's shaking his shoulder. "Murdock, did you hear me?  We're gonna go down and see if she is at Mac's.  Wanna' come?"  Murdock suddenly did not want to see the doctor in the role of lush... he just didn't want to cope with that right now. Letting go of Hannibal had been the hardest thing he'd ever done... watching Maggie's disintegration didn't help.  He shook his head. "Nah... I think I'll stay here, just in case maybe she's in a shower or somethin' and can't hear us.  You go on... I'll see you later, anyway, no?"

 Peck nodded, and he and BA headed down the street to Mac's.

 [Note ­ flesh out:  They ran into Hank... went to bar, she wasn't there, they came back with the sheroiff. Hank was really worried, knowing how she'd been brooding about their night in bed, with everything else.  He kicked in the door, and they searched house, to find her unconscious in bedroom with pillbottle next to her... and shot glass off to one side.  She still had a pulse but sluggish and weak. They debated whether to get paramedics, but realized if she went to hospital, she would be professionally ruined.  They decided they would get her out of it themselves.  If they couldn't, then they would take her to hospital. They walked her around for hours... got messy, but she did come out of it... was mortified... not really sure if she did it on purpose or not...

They were successful and left a very sleepy, weak and susceptible Maggie behind (leaving paperwork behind). Hank stayed awhile until he was sure she was really asleep then left, taking the precaution of taking all her pills with him.  When she awoke, she felt awful... both physically and emotionally.  She saw papers on table and began to read them.  A last letter to her from Hannibal, and various annuities and bequests.  She found that she would be well-taken care of the rest of her life.  It was too much to deal with and she went to the couch and lay down, with a lot of serious thinking to do here ....  Does she stay alive to honor Hannibal's love for her, or does she make sure that she will succeed in her attempt to join him?  She has to really think this out.

 * * *

Seeing how desperately Hannibal's demise had gotten to her demoralized the Team even more.  They had a long session and admit to each other that without him, it just doesn't much matter what they do with life anymore; all the zing and zest are gone now.

 * * *

 Everything seemed so slow.  He had walked across the parched desert floor until he thought he could go no further and dropped where he stood.  Then he'd heard the gentle lowing of cattle not far away. //Where there were cows, there were people.//  The thought carried him enough to rise to his feet and head toward a small tower about a half mile away.  He was amazed to see a water trough and a number of complacent bossies milling around.  He reached the trough and buried his head in the cool, welcome water for a few long seconds, then burst up out of the wetness with a loud cry of joy.  "YEAH!"  He let the droplets run down his face, his neck and soak his shirt.  Then he bent down again and took a long drink of the slightly sweet water.  Cupping his hands he poured handful after handful over his head and down his shirt and then finally slid down to sit, leaning against the mossy coolness of the reservoir.  He shut his eyes and just let blessed quietness come over him for a few moments, then was startled to feel a raspy lick on his cheek.  His eyes jerked open to see an inquisitive calf at eye level, trying to figure out what this human person was doing in the water trough.  The man grinned broadly, reached over and gave the calf a kiss on its nose.

He laughed deeply.  He was alive, and somehow he was going to get out of this.  As soon as he contacted... //uh... contacted...//  His mind went blank.  He was supposed to check with someone, but he couldn't remember who.  As he tried to remember his recent history, he realized with a shock he couldn't remember who HE was.  All he could remember was an explosion... no, two explosions... and a woman doctor.  He stood up, patting his new small friend absentmindedly on the head.  He turned around and looked at the water tower.  ACME WATERWORKS.  He realized with a jolt that he'd been expecting to see Cyrillic lettering.  He was in the Soviet Union....  wasn't he?  That's the last place he remembered being  told.

It was suddenly too puzzling and confusing.  He took off his shirt and soaked it in the trough, then put it back on.  One thing he did know. He had to get back to the woman doctor, whatever, wherever she was. She had the clue that would unlock this.  Looking around to see if there was anything handy to use as a water jug, he saw a discarded plastic 3-liter soda bottle.  Picking it up, dusting and then rinsing it out, he filled it to the brim with water and then tested it to see if it would hold. It did.  Patting his little friend one last time, he headed off to where the sun appeared to be setting.  //West.  Have to go west.//

*****

 He hitched a ride with some braceros coming out of Las Cruces heading toward Lordsburg/Silver City.  His spanish was fractured, but serviceable enough to get his drift across, and only added to the puzzle about himself he was building.  //I speak Spanish.  What else?//  The men let him off in Lordsburg and he had to fend for himself.  He came to realize he was not in USSR, but still in U.S.  This was somewhat of a surprise, but relaxed him somewhat, solving a lot of problems he thought he would have as in how he would get across the oceans??

 He hopped a train finally in Wilcox, as his rides stopped there.  He ended up in Barstow, and made his way across by various means, walking, hitchhiking and [other??].  He constantly felt as though someone was after him, although he never saw anyone, but found it a disconcerting thought and kept a low profile, just in case.  He finally got a lift from a trucker going near Bad Rock.  The name triggered a flash in his mind, and he realized that was where he had to go.

 ******

 He showed up at Maggie's and the two parts of story join here.  (Some joining!!)  Back at the house, Hannibal made his historic reappearance at this time.  A gaunt, wrecked Maggie opened the door... see him standing there, equally gaunt and wrecked, and fainted dead away.... it was too much for her overwrought mind at that point.

 When she came around, lying on the couch, she thought she'd hallucinated, and mumbled out loud that this was it... she wasn't even competent to pretend to be a doctor anymore, and that it was time to quit.  As she looked around the room, she saw the concerned, worried face of Hannibal Smith near her, watching her carefully.  She shut her eyes quickly, refusing to give in to this hallucination.

 Then the vision spoke.  "Uh... maam... doctor?  Are you a doctor?  Are you ok?  I didn't mean to scare you...  Who ARE you?"

 She opened her eyes and looked at him again.  "Hannibal?" in a hoarse feathery whisper.

 "Me?" the man looked uncertain.  "I don't know.  I don't remember much about myself... do you know me?  All I know is that I just had to come back here, wherever that is, and see you... does that make any sense?" The total bewilderment in his eyes convinced her that this was no act.

 Maggie slowly stretched out her hand and ever so lightly brushed his face.  "God, you're real.... you're here... you're alive... my god... you're ALIVE!"  The dawning realization lit up her face, bringing much needed animation to her drawn face.

 "Was I dead?"  he asked.

 "Yeah, we thought so."  She couldn't keep her hands off him, just touching, touching, touching, reassuring herself that THIS was real, and all the months before were the nightmare.

 "Who am I?  Who are you?" his eyes were troubled.  "Why was I dead? What do I do?  Why were these guys trying to ..."  his voice faded out. "I can't remember... just they were ..." his eyes suddenly held a glimpse of the irrepressible twinkle of old, "were the 'bad guys'."

 "Listen... plenty of time for all that.  You look exhausted.  I'm going to get a brandy... I need something right now.  You?"

 "Yeah, sounds good.  Get the new bottle down in the bottom shelf."  He suddenly looked up at her, startled.  "How the hell did I know that?"

 "On occasion, you live here."  Maggie decided to keep her answers simple.  She went to the wet bar, retrieved the brandy and poured each of them a stiff shot.  She brought the drinks back to him and knelt on the floor below him, gazing up at him rapturously.  The intensely concentrated attention unnerved him a bit.

 "Please don't stare at me like that. "

 "I'm sorry, Hannibal.  I've never had someone come back from the dead before... not like this.  I'm afraid I'm not very good at dealing with it.  A couple of kids surprised us in 'Nam, but not quite like this."

 "'Nam?  Was I involved in that?"

 She shook her head slowly.  "Yes... more than you'll like when you remember the whole story.  It shaped and colored your life permanently, I'm afraid."  Continuing to sip the liquor, her eyes began to sparkle and a touch of color began infusing her cheeks.  "more on that later... you look like you need a long nap."  She was studying the beloved face in front of her and realized the dark shadows under his eyes and gaunt features were from a long-standing abuse or deprivation.  He most certainly needed some rest.  She stood up, and then reached for him and pulled him up beside her.  He tottered for a moment, then regained his balance.  His arm snaked around her shoulders and held on, familiarly. She led him to the back room, got him onto the bed and brought a down comforter and laid it over him.  He gave her a wistful, crooked smile and then dropped into a deep sleep instantly.

 Maggie went back to the front room, still somewhat numb from all of it.  She finally tuned in to the fact that the phone was ringing somewhere.  In a daze she went to answer it.

 "Mo!  Are you alright?  What took you so long?"  Hank Thompson's voice was strident, worried that she'd done something stupid again.

 "Hank... hello."  her voice was vacant, still not tuned in.

 "Maggie... what's going on?  Are you ok?  Talk to me!"

 "Hank, you won't believe it.... I still don't."  The phone slipped from her nerveless fingers, and she went and sat on the couch.

 She sat there still trying to piece it all together in her mind, when the banging on her front door once again brought her attention back to reality.  She got up and answered the door.

 Thompson stood there, not sure what he would be faced with this time. Maggie looked up at him... her eyes glittering feverishly.  "Hank, you won't believe it.  He's back.  He's ok."

 Thompson didn't have to ask who she meant.  But this sudden lapse in her perception of reality scared him.  He took her in his arms, pulled her tightly to him and hugged her, desperately, trying to reach whatever sane part of her was left.

 She must have sensed his confusion and fear, for she suddenly pushed him back.  "You think I've lost it, don't you?"  She laughed.  "Guess I can't blame you.  I'm still coming to grips with it."  She pulled his arm and led him to the back.  "Come on.  Take a look and then tell me I've lost it."  She entered the bedroom cautiously and then stood aside to let him in.

 Hank Thompson was not easily surprised, but what he saw on that bed took his breath away.  Hannibal Smith.  Hannibal Smith, dirty, bearded, exhausted, emaciated -- but most emphatically ALIVE!

 "What?!  How the hell..?" he found himself speechless.

 "I don't know either, Hank.  He just showed up a little while ago.  He seems to be suffering some kind of amnesia.  I felt the best thing was to let him sleep for awhile.  He's been running from somebody..." off Thompson's sharp look, "no, not the Army.  Somebody else.. He finally felt safe here."  She looked lovingly down at the figure on the bed, and then raised her eyes to his, glowingly.  "It's a miracle.. plain and simple.  I'm going to have to call the Team and let them know."

to be finished AND HERE'S WHERE IT'S SAT FOR 12 years!!!!


Deathwatch by Rita Ractliffe

 

 


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