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This page last viewed: 2017-04-25 and has been viewed 3083 times
Summary: Face has met a girl and wishes he hadn't.
Copyright: I'm sorry, but I really am infringing on someone else's copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way
Archive: Yes please.
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PK Ů thanks, there aren't the words to express what a help you've been.
The two songs included are of unknown origin, but "The Irish Rovers" sang the bog song. They are those Žsing on a long ride' songs and are quite fun when you're a kid, or a kid at heart.
"I know you think this is funny, but it's not." Face said with exasperation as both BA and Hannibal continued to chuckle.
"Come on, Face!" BA said making little attempt to hide his amusement. "I never heard you have no trouble with women before."
Face sighed and rolled his eyes. "Come on, Hannibal, I don't know what to do." Ignoring BA completely.
"Face my boy, I think you should just take her to a nice restaurant and break up in public where she can't cause a scene." A glint showed in Hannibal's eyes as he struggled to keep his lips from twitching into a grin.
"I tried that." Face slumped heavily into a chair. "I've tried everything. This girl just doesn't take no for an answer. Can't we just leave town for a couple of days? Don't we have some job we can take?"
"Face, don't you know you can't run away from your problems. Gotta face Žem head on." Hannibal finally controlled his emotions and sat down in the chair across from Face.
"Hannibal, it's not like I haven't tried. I've tried head on, backwards, subtle, obvious, you name it, I've done it, but this girl just doesn't get it. I'm not interested in her."
BA chuckled again. "That's a first."
Face grimaced. "Okay, I admit, I was at first. But she's÷" He trailed off and waved a hand in the air, "clingy."
"Look, kid, I understand that this girl isn't good at taking a hint, but you need to do something. Maybe if you wrote her a letter or something. Put it in black and white."
Face frowned again, unconvinced. "Maybe." Then he looked up, "Can we mail it from Vegas?"
Hannibal smiled and patted Face's knee. "I got a movie to do tomorrow. Sorry, no can do. You work it out, okay?"
Face frowned. "Yeah, okay." He was still very unhappy.
Face took the long way home. He'd left Hannibal's apartment later than he usually did. He'd been getting home later and later every night since he'd met Chloe. And he wasn't doing the fun things he liked to do. He'd given up night-clubbing entirely, because she always found him. Mostly he was just driving around in circles. More than once he'd parked at the top of Mulholland and just gazed out at the city lights wondering where she'd turn up next.
That night when he got home he found a red rose outside the door of his apartment with a little note that said, "I miss you. Call me, Chloe". Cautiously Face looked both left and right down the deserted hall before opening the door and stepping into the apartment, leaving the rose where it lay.
He palmed on the light switch and scanned the room. Even on the twelfth floor he felt uncomfortable, as if someone was watching him. He walked through the apartment and checked each room and closet. It was empty and afterward he felt a little silly, but he still locked himself in the bathroom to change into his pajamas, and then went to bed.
An hour later the phone rang. "Hello?" He asked thinking it was Hannibal or maybe Murdock.
Face let out a sigh. "What do you want, Chloe?"
"I want you, Temp. Can I come over?" He gritted his teeth. On top of everything else, he hated "Temp" as a nickname.
"No." Face said letting the irritation be heard in his voice.
"Come on, baby. I don't know what I did to make you mad, but I'll make it up to you." She purred into the phone.
"No, I'm not interested." Face snapped back. "Goodnight." He hung up the phone. Twenty seconds later it rang again. Face stared at it. He was afraid if he didn't answer it, this time it would be Hannibal or Murdock. Hannibal had only chewed him out once for not answering a call from the Team and it wasn't something he wanted to experience again.
"We must have been disconnected. What are you doing?"
"I'm packing, I'm moving. I'm leaving town. Goodbye Chloe." Face slammed the phone down. It rang again a few seconds later. Face leapt out of bed and paced back and forth while it rang three more times. Running one hand through his honey blond hair, he grabbed the phone again.
"What?!" He snarled into the phone.
"What's eating you?" Murdock's warm tenor came over the line.
Face sat down on the edge of the bed and let go of a long slow breath. "Sorry, I've been getting prank phone calls."
"It's not Decker or anything?"
"No. What are you doing up so late?" Face said, glad of the distraction. He leaned back against the headboard and stuck his bare feet under the covers. He relaxed and let the tension ease out of his tense shoulders.
"I was just thinking about stuff and thought about you."
"Bad dreams?" He let go of his other worries and focused all his energy on Murdock.
"Nah, nothing like that, you know, just therapy and thinking, you know." Murdock said softly.
"Sure, I know. So what did you do today?"
They spent the next two hours talking about inconsequential matters covering everything from the nutritional value of tapioca pudding to the upcoming presidential elections. Face was just about to say good night when the doorbell rang.
"You got company, Facey? It's awful late."
"I'm gonna hang up, but if I don't call you back in 5 minutes, call Hannibal and get him over here quick." Face's tone was cool and clipped.
"Face?" Murdock did not like the sound of that.
"Don't ask questions, just do it." Face hung up and tossed on his bathrobe. Whoever was on the other side of the door was now leaning on the bell. He grabbed his .357 off the dresser as he left his room and pulled the door open.
"Hi, baby, I knew you were here, your line was busy." Chloe Martin flitted past him into the room holding the now slightly wilted rose from the hallway.
He didn't close the door and didn't try to hide his weapon, simply holding it down by his side.
"What part of go away are you having trouble understanding?" He said shortly. It was not his usual manner to be so rude, but he'd tried everything else.
"Don't be mad, honey, I just wanted to see you before you leave town. Where you going?"
"Away, far away, and you should be going too." He used the barrel of his gun to point to the door.
She blinked at the weapon in acknowledgement, but she didn't seem surprised. She'd seen it before, as he wore it in a shoulder holster under his sports coat. She sat down on the cream colored couch and pointed the rose at him. "You didn't bring this in."
"I didn't want it. You should leave, now." He gestured to the door again.
She came toward him and for a moment Face had a glimmer of hope that she would actually leave. Instead she extended her arm toward him, holding the rose as if to stroke his cheek with it. He stepped back and away from her in an unrelenting manner. "You are not being polite." Her tone was beginning to turn icy, her eyes narrowed.
"I'm sure you're right." He said brusquely, keeping the smile off his face he usually used to irritate people he didn't like. He didn't want her to get any hint that he might change his mind.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure we can work it out." Her brown eyes gazed up at him, but her tone was a little more brittle.
"I'm sure we can't, so you should leave." As he said this, he leaned forward, grabbed her arm and propelled her through the doorway. "Goodbye!" He was angrier than he'd intended. He wanted to be dispassionate, to show her he just didn't care, but she irritated him in ways he didn't understand.
She had time to glare at him for just an instant before he slammed the door. He could hear her pounding repeatedly as he locked and deadbolted the door. She continued to bang on it while he wondered if the neighbors would call the building superintendent or the police first. The blows stopped as suddenly as they had begun. The sudden silence was almost as unnerving as the banging had been. Cynically he wondered what was next.
Face took a long shuddering breath and went to the bedroom. He didn't call Murdock. Instead he changed into jeans and a sweater, shoved his feet into his loafers, pulled on his leather jacket and quickly packed up his meager belongings. For once he wasn't too upset about how little he possessed now that he was on the run. He didn't take his usual care to pack what little he had neatly, either. He jammed things into the bag in haste and anger.
In less than fifteen minutes he was down at the curb just as Hannibal and BA pulled up in the van. "Are you okay?" Hannibal asked as Face tossed his bag in before jumping in and slamming the door shut.
"Head out, BA, and be careful, I might have a tail." Telling BA to be careful of a tail was sort of like telling the sun not to shine. It was going to happen no matter what you had to say about it.
"What is going on, Lieutenant?" Hannibal asked abruptly. "Murdock called in a panic." Face leaned between the seats and grabbed the mobile phone and dialed Murdock's number.
"Hey, it's me." Face said, "Thanks for making the call."
"What's going on, Face? Are you okay?"
"I am now, look, I'll call you tomorrow and explain it all. Just÷thanks." He let the gratitude be heard in his voice.
"Yeah, I'm sure." He used his smoothest tones to reassure the other man.
"Kay, night Face." Murdock did not sound completely convinced, but knowing Face was with the rest of the team he let it go for now.
"Night, Murdock." Face hung up the phone and sat back in his seat.
"Care to fill us in?" Hannibal was quickly going from annoyed to angry at Face's mysterious antics.
"No. You won't believe me anyway."
BA turned in his seat enough to glare back at Face. "You get me outta a nice warm bed in the middle of the night, you better do some explaining." He growled before flicking his gaze back to the road.
Face crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the point where a window should have been in the van door. His jaw tightened and he continued to ignore them.
"Face." Hannibal said firmly, doing all he could to hold onto his patience with the silent man in the back seat.
There was still no reply and no movement and unless Hannibal used his rank, Face was not about to answer. "Where to?" BA finally asked to break the silence.
"Face?" Hannibal asked staring out the front window. Sometimes waiting Face out was better than all the arguing in the world.
Face knew he had to provide some kind of response. "I÷" He paused. Suddenly he let his arms drop from his defensive posture and his hands were open in his lap. His head dropped forward, all traces of defiance gone. "Can I stay at your place tonight?" He let a bit of irony creep into his voice, "It seems I've just given up a really great apartment."
Hannibal narrowed his eyes. This was really unusual behavior from his second-in-command. "You heard the man, BA, back to my place." BA continued to check his mirrors as he took a long circular route from Santa Monica out to Studio City. He took the off ramp at Cuenga and then parked in the lot of Hannibal's apartment building.
BA wasn't in any hurry to get back to his place, but it was getting late and he was tired. Hannibal got out and slid open the side door. Face sat in the back unwilling to step out, and even more unwilling to meet his commander's gaze. "Well?" Hannibal prompted.
"You come too, BA." Face finally said softly.
BA turned in his seat again and gave the Lieutenant a long hard look. Without another word he shut off the engine and climbed out from behind the wheel.
They walked in silence up to the apartment on the second floor. Hannibal unlocked the door and both Face and BA passed in before him. Face dropped his duffel bag on the floor next to the couch and let out a sigh that was equal parts relief and exasperation.
"Okay, Face, spill it, what the hell is going on?"
Hannibal watched as Face shuddered. "It's that girl, Chloe." BA would have laughed but then he took a closer look at Face. The younger man had a haunted look about his eyes. "She's starting to scare me, Hannibal, and I really don't know what to do. She won't leave me alone. It seems like every time I turn around she's there, or she's been there. She leaves stuff outside my apartment door, she calls me at all hours of the day and night÷" He looked at both of them expecting to be rebuked, but this time they were listening to him. "I was really rude to her tonight, Hannibal. I told her to go away, leave me alone. She just didn't get it. I don't think she wanted to get it." Face sat down heavily on the couch and pulled a pillow from behind his back and hugged it close to his chest.
"Sounds like she's loony, Hannibal." BA said as he sat down next to Face, close enough that their arms touched, silently offering his strength and moral support.
Hannibal sat down on the coffee table across from them, their knees brushing. "Well, we gave her the slip, tonight. You just steer clear of any of the places the two of you went together, and hopefully in a few days she'll figure out that you really are gone and move on to somebody else."
Face nodded, but gripped the pillow tighter. "Come on." BA said with a slap on Face's shoulder. "Let's go make up the beds in Hannibal's spare room and get some sleep." BA picked up Face's duffel and carried it down the hall. They all kept a few things in Hannibal's apartment for emergencies, but BA planned to go to his place the next day and clear out. He could tell from the set of Hannibal's shoulders that they'd all be laying low for a few days.
Hannibal went to the door and made sure it was deadbolted. As he turned around he noticed that Face was watching his every move. "It'll be okay. Go get some sleep. You look exhausted."
Face nodded, but continued to clutch the little brown pillow as he walked down the hall to the bedroom. He was grateful that BA hadn't made a fuss about staying here. He was even willing to take some teasing about being more careful of whom he dated. Because at this moment, being teased was much better than having to worry about Chloe.
As he lay down in bed his mind went back over the few days that he'd known Chloe. His mind was a whir of emotions and images. He was convinced that he'd never get to sleep. But knowing that BA and Hannibal were right there, watching his back, Face drifted off into the first good sleep he'd had in over a week.
BA tiptoed into the room after going into the bathroom to change. Face had fallen asleep quickly. BA's smile was soft as he looked down at his Žyounger brother'. He shook his head. Trust Face to pick a loony! The boy had no sense when it came to woman.
It was almost three days before Face got over the feeling of being watched. He was not an overly cautious person by nature, and Hannibal would have found it amusing to see Face so intent on locking the doors and windows if he hadn't found it so worrisome.
Face had a reputation as a ladies' man, he was almost a Casanova. Women liked him. They liked to be with him, they liked to be around him. He generated an aura of strong yet gentle sensuousness. It could be amusing to the outsider who watched, as women seemed to instinctively gravitate in the young man's direction. But when it was time to move on they all seemed to recognize it was over. Very few ever had anything bad to say about him. Many went out with him time and time again over the course of a couple of years. He was a safe date, no pressure; he gave just as much as the girl wanted, and no more. If it was dinner and dancing, or long nights by the fire, Face was there. And most knew without being told that he wasn't in it for the long haul.
But something about Chloe Martin had him rattled. He jumped when the phone rang, he cautioned BA to check for tails, and seemed to find shadows and alleys very interesting. Face spent a couple of days staying close to either Hannibal or BA. He even went to the movie set with Hannibal. He hung back and stayed out of the way, not even bothering to chat with the director or the leading lady, but hovered in the background, Hannibal's silent shadow.
Finally on Friday he began to relax. They got Murdock out on a weekend pass and the four of them went to dinner. They took in a late showing of The Creature from Betelgeuse. Hannibal had been up for the part, but had to turn it down when they took a job in Bangladesh. So during the course of the movie, he critiqued the Creature and pointed out all the things he would have done differently. He kept it up until Murdock was forced to throw popcorn at him to shut him up.
They got back to Hannibal's apartment about 1:30 and Hannibal watched as, for the first time in days, Face did not search the apartment or check to be sure the doors were deadbolted. He smiled to himself as he helped Murdock make up the sofa bed.
"What's up, Colonel?" Murdock asked as he stuffed a pillow into a pillowcase.
"Face is doing better."
"That girl really messed him up." Murdock said bluntly.
"Yeah, she was following him and staking out his place. Let's hope Decker doesn't get wind of her. She's a regular blood hound." Hannibal went down the hall to get an extra blanket and peeked into the room that BA and Face had shared all week. Face was lying in bed, reading a book. Hannibal went back down the hall and handed the blanket to Murdock.
"Think it'll be okay if I watch some TV?" Murdock asked.
"Sure, just keep it low, okay?" They both smiled. Murdock hadn't yet slept over when he didn't watch TV and every time he'd fallen asleep with it still on. Sometime during the night some war movie or western would come on with the volume way too loud, and Hannibal had to come out and turn it down. Murdock had become so accustomed to the constant sounds at the VA that it was hard to sleep if it was too quiet. And in a way, it was something familiar in every unfamiliar place.
"Good night, Captain." Hannibal breathed a sigh of relief. This was as close to normal as it got with his men, and he liked the feel of it.
They slept late the next morning. There was something about all of them being together and not being on a job that made it easier for them to relax. They decided on lunch at the marina and piled into BA's van.
Halfway there, Murdock started to sing the Lady-who-swallowed-the-fly song and BA made it through the first complete verse with out saying anything, but as the second verse started he began to complain. "Make him stop, Hannibal." He growled. It was one of those 99 bottles of beer songs that kids love and parents hate. And one that in particular gave him the willies.
"Murdock." Hannibal cautioned.
"It wiggled and jiggled and giggled insider her.
I don't know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she'll die." Murdock continued to sing.
"Make him quit, Hannibal." BA actually whined as his bejeweled rings clenched on the steering wheel. "I really hate this song." He rolled his massive shoulders as if that would keep the hair on the back of his neck from standing up.
"There was an old lady that swallowed a bird,
Isn't it absurd to swallow a bird?
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and jiggled and giggled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly but
I don't know why she swallowed the fly,
Perhaps she'll die."
This time it was Face who had taken up the next verse. Hannibal tried to hide a smile and intently looked out the side window.
BA shuddered. Everything about the song made his skin crawl. "Come on, Hannibal make Žem quit!" He was quickly losing what little patience he had.
Hannibal didn't get a chance to say anything at all when Murdock began the next line.
"There was an old lady who swallowed a cat÷" He didn't get any further when BA slammed both feet onto the brake pedal and skidded to a halt on the side of the road. The force of the sudden stop threw them forward in their seats. Recovering first, BA grabbed for the door handle and launched himself out of the van.
Face scrambled to open the sliding door, and he and Murdock scurried out of the van. They ran about ten paces away, into the brush at the side of the road, and then turned back around apprehensively watching to see just how angry the angry mudsucker really was.
Hannibal got slowly from his seat and watched the scene as he lit a cigar. He kept his eyes fixed on the flame to hide the glint of amusement in his blue eyes. This was a running argument between BA and Murdock. Murdock knew that BA hated the song, but every few months he'd dig it out and pester BA with it to see just how far he could push the bigger man. He had yet to finish the song.
"Get over here so I can pound you." BA shouted from the road, annoyed, but not so much that he was willing to chase after either man to exact justice.
"We were just having fun." Murdock shouted back and stuck out his tongue, then swiftly maneuvered behind Face and tried unconvincingly to hide.
"Calm down, okay BA, we didn't mean to upset you." Face took over a little more reasonably, his hands up in a surrender gesture.
"Get over here. You know I hate that song." BA kept pointing to the space in front of him and yelling. "Get over here."
Neither Murdock nor Face had any intention of coming any closer than they were. Face muttered something that sounded like "Yeah, right" very sarcastically. He then turned his skills toward his commander. "Hannibal?" he whined for intervention.
"Boys." Murdock and Face looked Hannibal's way, hopefully, but BA never took his eyes off his target. "Do you promise not to sing that song in the van again?"
They flicked their eyes to each other. Murdock cocked his head to one side and Face narrowed his eyes. Murdock gave a slight shake of his head and frowned. Face gave a slight nod and raised one shoulder. It seemed like they were communicating without words. "We promise not to sing that song in the van again," they both said in unison. Hannibal flicked a glance at BA and almost missed the "today" they sneakily tacked on the end.
"Hands?" Hannibal inquired making them put up their hands to show that their fingers weren't crossed. He didn't want this feud to continue five minutes after they got back on the road.
"Good enough, BA?"
"No!" BA shouted half-heartedly.
"Come on, BA, I'm hungry. What do you want to do, eat or beat them up?" Hannibal turned to get back in the van as if the answer was a forgone conclusion.
"I want to do both. Beat Žem up, then go eat." He muttered as he kicked the dirt at his feet and walked sullenly back to the driver's door.
Murdock gave a skip and a laugh and ran back to the van. Face heaved a sigh as he slammed the door shut. Murdock opened his mouth, but Face shushed him with a glance and a shake of his head. "So, how do you like those Dodgers?" Murdock said so seriously that Face burst out laughing.
They took their usual places at the table. BA sat so he could see the street and his van. Hannibal kept an eye on the front door, Face sat so he could see the kitchen. Murdock took the last chair that gave him a view of the sea and studied the menu. "Ain't got no chili dogs." He said as he read it over quickly.
"I'll get you a chili dog at the beach later." Face said with a grimace.
"Yes, but only if you act nice in here." Face reprimanded gently. It was one thing to act goofy when it was just the four of them, but in a posh place like this he didn't want to attract any undue attention.
"And don't sing that song again." BA interjected.
"Kay." Murdock said softly and stopped kicking his sneakered foot against Face's chair.
They ordered and sat back drinking iced tea and taking in the scenery. "Look." Murdock said breathlessly and pointed out the window. They all turned in their seats to look out the restaurant's large glass windows.
Not fifty feet away, three dolphins were playing in the waves at the end of the pier. A good portion of the restaurant fell silent as they watched Mother Nature's show. "Wow." Face said as they slipped out of view.
"Nice." Hannibal grinned. "Worth coming all this way for lunch."
"Well, hello, what a surprise." A soft voice purred from behind Hannibal.
Face turned and blanched. "Chloe," Face said sourly. "How unexpected." None of them recognized the cold, flat tone he used.
Hannibal had to shift his chair in order to see the woman standing between him and BA. She was a pretty young woman, with long brown hair and deep brown eyes. Her skin was clear with just a few freckles across the bridge of her nose.
"We haven't met." He said warmly, but she ignored him.
"Where have you been, Temp? I've been to your place, but you haven't been there." Murdock's eyes narrowed at the mention of the disliked nickname.
"No, I moved. I don't want to see you again Chloe." Face said brusquely. Hannibal frowned, Face hadn't been kidding when he said he'd been both rude and direct with the girl. Murdock was watching the conversation like a spectator at a tennis match, his eyes flicking first to Chloe then to Face.
"So you've said." This time she stopped using her sugarcoated voice and glared at him. "I just wanted to give you something I meant to give you before." She reached into her purse and pulled out a small handgun.
For Murdock, time seemed to both speed up and slow down as he watched.
Face blinked and threw himself toward the floor. Hannibal reached for her arm at the same instant that BA tried to grab her. The gun discharged and Face and his chair went backward to the floor with a heavy thud. Hannibal grabbed the gun from her hand and BA wrestled her away from the table. She was shrieking at the top of her lungs. "You're mine, if I can't have you, no one can. You're mine!" BA dragged her up to the lobby.
In an instant Murdock snapped out of his reverie and dropped to his knees by his friend's side. "You okay, buddy?" Face had his fingers pressed over a graze on the outside of his arm. Blood was welling up between his fingers. Murdock grabbed a napkin and tried to pull Face's fingers from the wound.
Someone was in the background yelling, "Call 911! Call 911!" while a waiter was trying to make the woman calm down assuring her it had already been done.
"Let me see it, Facey, come on." Murdock's tone was calm and unhurried.
Hannibal knelt next to them. "How bad?"
Murdock gave a half smile as he applied a pressure point to Face's wrist making his fingers open from around the wound. He looked at it briefly before applying the napkin. "It's not too bad, but it's messy. What are we gonna do about all this?" Murdock was nodding to the crowd starting to form. Two waiters were doing a good job of forming a wall to keep the spectators at bay.
"I'm okay." Face was starting to repeat over and over coming out of his shock.
"I've got ID on me says Michael Jones. You?" Hannibal said grabbing Face's bloody hand to keep him from putting it back over the wound. Face held on with a strong grip.
shook his head. "I don't have any ID at all."
"Good, Face?" Hannibal used the power of his voice to focus Face's attention. "You're not hurt very bad, but we've got trouble headed our way. Any ID on you says Jones?" Face concentrated, nodded and tried to reach for his wallet. Hannibal stilled him and fished it out. He had to let go of Face's hand, but laid it gently on his thigh. Face's hand clenched into a fist, but he left it in place.
Hannibal fumbled through a stack of business cards until he found one he liked. "Good, says Daniel Jones. Okay here goes." He paused until he was sure he had the attention of both of them. "I'm the dad, both of you are my sons and BA is you're business partner," he indicated in Face's direction not believing that the police would accept Murdock, wearing a "Monkees" T-shirt, would be in business with the bejeweled powerhouse in the lobby. "His name is÷"
"Omar Khayyam" Murdock smirked.
"Very funny. Edward Haskell. We're all here having a nice quiet lunch, and we've never seen that girl before in our lives. Got it?" They both nodded. "I'll go check on ÷Ed÷ and be right back."
Face grabbed his hand before he could go and gave a familiar smile. "I guess making a scene in a restaurant wasn't a problem for her."
Hannibal had to think back to remember the conversation they'd had the first night Face told him about this problem. "No, I see you're right." Hannibal said with a grin. "Next time, bring flowers." Hannibal patted Face on his uninjured shoulder and got to his feet. He didn't realize that when he wiped his hand on his jacket he wiped on a smear of blood.
BA's gaze latched onto that smear first thing even as he continued to control the shrieking girl. "Colonel?"
Hannibal followed his gaze to the blood on his jacket. "It's not bad, Ed" he paused "Dan'll be okay." BA frowned then caught on as Hannibal emphasized each name. Hannibal grabbed the girl by the chin and pulled her around to look at him. He was startled by the crazy glint in her eye. "Mr. Haskell here is not going to let you go, so you might as well stop struggling."
She didn't seem to even hear him, but Hannibal had done what he'd intended to do and let her go. "I'm going back to my son, your business partner, the police should be here soon."
"Okay Mr÷" BA stopped.
"Jones." Hannibal said softly with a smile, "Don't worry, he's going to be just fine." BA nodded as Chloe took a deep breath and began to renew her struggle. "Knock it off!" BA shouted in her ear.
Two squad cars showed up just moments later. It took two officers to control the girl and get her into the back of the squad car. Another officer came to the back of the restaurant. "So what happened?"
Hannibal got to his feet. Face was much more relaxed and just moaning "She shot me" in a slightly stunned voice having been told to act like this was the first time he'd been shot. "It all happened so fast." Hannibal began gesturing absently, "That young woman just came up and pulled a gun and shot my son." Hannibal seemed almost as dazed as Face.
Murdock and Face exchanged a smirk at Hannibal's too innocent tone. It was a good thing the officer wasn't paying any attention to them as he hurriedly scribbled notes in his book. "And you are?"
"Michael Jones, that's my son Dan and my son Dave. We were having lunch with my son's business partner, Ed, when this girl just walked up and started shooting."
"You don't know her?" They all shook their heads no. A team of paramedics showed up and maneuvered Murdock out of the way and began to take vital signs and check the wound.
"Ow!" Face said sharply when one of them removed the makeshift bandage and glared at the paramedic. "Take it easy, would ya'!" Murdock and Hannibal both looked his way as Face's tone changed from dazed, wounded civilian to angry wounded, soldier.
"Have you ever seen her before?" The officer directed his question at Face.
"No, never," Face said returning to his injured tone as Hannibal mentally tried to glare caution at him from behind the officers' back.
The officer continued to write in his pad and then said over his shoulder. "Wait here."
He went out to talk to BA who gave the same story. After a similar round of questions by the next officer on the scene, Face was loaded on a gurney to be taken to the hospital. Hannibal and Murdock trailed after him as they threaded their way through the now hushed restaurant.
"We'll hold her for 72 hours, but she'll probably go to a psychiatric hospital after that. She's not very coherent. She says that your son's name is Mitchell Johnson and that he belongs to her and she wasn't going to let him go."
"Poor thing," Hannibal said with more sympathy then he felt and a strange pang of relief knowing that she hadn't given them away.
"I don't need to go in an ambulance." Face was saying sullenly and trying to sit up despite the straps that held him in place against the gurney.
"I'd better go, thank you." Hannibal said shaking the officer's hand. "Just relax, son." Hannibal said as he climbed in beside him.
Murdock and BA went to the van and followed along to the hospital at a much slower pace. "Man!" Murdock said suddenly, "and they say I'm crazy."
BA snorted out a laugh and they drove on in silence.
Face did a good job of distracting the paramedic with questions about IV's and working conditions as Hannibal surreptitiously pocketed some much needed medical supplies for their first aid kit. But in the long run, Face felt much better as Hannibal gently squeezed his shoulder when the wail of the siren began to grate of Face's frazzled nerves.
Three hours later, Face was discharged against medical advice. "You don't understand, Doc," Face said with a grin, "I will get much more personal attention from those three out there then I will ever get from a couple of nurses with a whole floor full of patients."
"Just make sure you rest and don't use that arm for anything for the next three or four days." The young doctor chewed on the end of his pen before making notes on a chart.
"Sure, doc, no problem." The doctor frowned but signed him out. Face was taken out to the waiting room in a wheelchair.
"How ya' doin', kid?" Hannibal asked getting to his feet. Murdock stopped his frantic pacing to stand nearby.
"26 stitches and an armload of antibiotics, but I'm okay."
"Good." Hannibal said as Murdock inched closer and rested his hand on Face's shoulder. BA made a beeline for the door.
The doctor handed Hannibal two prescriptions for antibiotics and painkillers. "That arm will be sore for a couple of weeks. No heavy lifting," he paused and reconsidered, "no lifting at all for the next four days." Face nodded. "In about a week you'll need to get those stitches taken out. I'd really rather you stay overnight."
"We'll watch over him, doc." Murdock said forcefully.
"Do you know how to clean and bandage a wound?" The doctor asked still unwilling to let his charge go.
"Yeah, doc, I was in ŽNam." Hannibal said as he motioned Murdock to start pushing the wheelchair "We'll take good care of him. Promise."
Finally the doctor nodded and they went out to the van. BA brought it close to the curb while Murdock hovered at Face's elbow. "I can get in by myself." Face grumbled under his breath. But he took the far seat behind BA that Hannibal indicated without another word and left Murdock to pull the door shut. Hannibal wanted Face where he could keep an eye on him.
There was a peaceful silence in the van for a few minutes. Face was enjoying the quiet without the sounds of machines beeping and the pain filled noises of the hospital. He let a sigh past his lips as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"Face promised me chili dogs if I was good, and I think I've been very good." Murdock said suddenly. Face couldn't help but smile.
"No, I think we should go home and put Loverboy to bed."
"Aw, come on, it's just a scratch, and I want a chili dog, too." Face whined.
"Nope, don't think so." Hannibal said and turned forward in his chair and wedged a cigar between his teeth.
"Do you realize that you named BA "Eddie Haskell" back there?" Face said with a smirk. Even BA laughed as they all realized he'd been christened after the "Leave it to Beaver" character.
"I thought it sounded familiar." Hannibal said with a hint of a grin.
"And you named the guy in the Monkees shirt Davy Jones." Hannibal dropped his head to his chest. "Really, Hannibal, you need to work on the names a little more." Face chided good naturedly before changing the subject suddenly. "Come on, Hannibal?" He moaned. "I'm hungry." He flicked a smirk over at Murdock. "Can't we please go get chili dogs?"
"No, Lieutenant." This time Hannibal shook his head and stared out the passenger window. That was supposed to be the end of the matter.
Both Face and Murdock sulked in the back seat as BA headed for the freeway on ramp.
"Oh ro the ratlin bog÷" Face started very softly
"The bog down in the valley-o" Murdock continued just as softly.
"Oh ro the ratlin bog÷" Face picked up the next line
"The bog down in the valley-o" They were both singing lowly in half whispers.
"There was a tree down in a bog,
And on this tree there was limb" Face started softly but got a little louder with each line
"A limb on a tree and a tree in a bog and a bog down in the valley-o" Murdock continued in his normal voice. Together their voices harmonized.
"Oh ro the ratlin bog÷
"Oh no, Hannibal make Žem stop, it's one of those terrible go-on-forever songs." BA moaned half-heartedly. He was willing to cut Face some slack now that he was wounded, but only a little.
"You boys promised not to do that today." Hannibal said firmly.
Murdock kept singing but Face said sulkily, "No, we just promised not to sing the Lady and the Fly song. We're not."
"And on the limb there was a twig- a rare twig a ratlin twig÷" Murdock started again. He now had a very thin Irish lilt to his voice.
"Twig on a limb and limb on a tree and tree in a bog and a bog down in the valley-o"
The secret to this song was not only to add something new, but to sing it very fast as you went backward down the list and it became a bit of a tongue twister as well as a memory game.
"Make Žem stop, Hannibal." BA pleaded. "I hate these songs. They stick in my head and they're all I can think about for days. Make Žem stop."
Hannibal held up his hand for peace. Murdock's mouth was open to continue the next chorus but he waited. "If we get the makings for chili dogs and BA promises to grill them on the bar-b-que on the patio at my place will you boys promise not to sing this song - or any one like it - for÷."
"A year!" BA put in.
"A month." Hannibal finished, which seemed much more reasonable and besides, he kind of liked the songs, not that he'd ever admit it.
Face and Murdock held their wordless conversation again. "With ice cream sundaes for desert." Murdock added as Face nodded.
"And Face has to lie on the couch and take his medicine and can't complain about it." Hannibal added. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Face frowned and opened his mouth to comment, but Murdock nodded and continued negotiations, "And me and Face get to have control of the remote. Which means no football."
"Hey!" BA glared, "that ain't fair." Face began to hum the tune to the bog song softly in the background. "All right." BA grumbled.
"Deal?" Hannibal said with a grin.
"Deal." Murdock said and made like he was going to spit in his palm, but stopped at the glare he got from his commander and just put out his hand to shake.
"Okay, we go home, get Face settled on the couch and then BA and I will go out groceries shopping." BA merged over and took the exit at Cuenga and drove smoothly back to Hannibal's apartment.
The two drove to the market in silence preoccupied by their own thoughts. They split up the shopping in order to finish as quickly as possible. BA got food while Hannibal went down the medicine aisle.
He stopped in front of the Hydrogen Peroxide and stared at the dark brown bottle. One part of his mind was trying to remember if he had any of it under the bathroom sink and deciding between the regular bottle and the economy size.
The other part was swimming with emotion. What could they have done differently? What if the girl had turned them in? She'd obviously known Face's real name. What if he and BA hadn't reacted as fast as they had? What if Face hadn't thrown himself out of the way?
Hannibal realized his breathing was speeding up and he quickly got it under control. He glanced left and right to be sure no one had noticed. He grabbed the big bottle and headed further down the aisle.
He grabbed cotton balls and large non-adhesive bandages. He stopped in front of the antiseptic ointments and had to take a deep breath and blink his eyes clear. So many things could have gone wrong, should have gone wrong.
What if the police had asked for more than cursory ID? What if the hospital had? Face always said he could elude the military, the FBI or even the IRS, but the last thing you wanted on your trail was an insurance collector.
Hannibal shifted the items from one hand to the other. He didn't usually play the Žwhat if' game. He made a decision and didn't look back unless it was to assess the mission. Face was the one that thought about the Žwhat ifs.' He brought them to light before a mission so that Hannibal had all the necessary and possible facts to make a decision. But then, he let it go. He rarely brought it up again. Even, Hannibal smiled to himself, when one of Face's predictions turned out to be right.
Hannibal grabbed the large tube of Neosporin and the extra strength aspirin. Face would take the prescription pain medication for only so long, then he'd start to fight them. It was best to have something as an alternative in the house.
He glanced down at his purchases and shook his head. Face was so lucky today. They all were. The wound was minor, but it still left Hannibal with a lump in his stomach. He swallowed hard. He wouldn't underestimate a woman again.
BA moved quickly through the aisles. He tossed items into the cart. The apartment would need to be restocked. He and Face had been there for almost a week as it was, and BA was sure that Hannibal would not let Face out of his site for another week, at least.
He went down the aisle with the breakfast cereal. Raisin Bran for the Colonel and Face, Corn Flakes for himself, and Lucky Charms for the Crazy Fool. He went up the next aisle and got cookies and chips. It wasn't long before the cart was almost full to overflowing. He had all the makings for the chilidogs and dessert, but he wanted something else.
He paused in the candy aisle. Face loved chocolate. He rarely indulged making comments about watching his weight, or it was bad for his skin. So BA looked at every item carefully.
A dark green box of "After Eight" dinner mints sat on the very top shelf. Dark chocolate covered peppermints were one of Face's very favorites. He'd fallen in love with them while doing a job in England and they had only been sold in the US for a few years. BA tucked them into the center of the cart and went to find Hannibal.
Face was asleep on the couch when Hannibal and BA returned but roused quickly. He started to get up to help, but Murdock held him down with a hand on his shoulder and a frown. "I'm starving to death." Face moaned. Hannibal reached into the bag he was carrying and tossed him a bag of potato chips. Murdock snatched it out of mid air to prevent Face from using both his hands to catch it. He pulled the bag open and dropped it in Face's lap, and went to help unload the groceries.
It was only 9:30 when Hannibal decided it was time they turned in. Face was more asleep than awake with his head resting on the arm of the sofa.
BA stood up and began to clear the coffee table of the chips and dip and take them into the kitchen. He groaned that he was still stuffed even as he took a spoon and finished the last of the vanilla ice cream.
Murdock was sprawled on the couch with his long legs on the coffee table still clutching the remote. It was rare for Hannibal and BA to give up possession of the little black wand of power, and Murdock had taken advantage of the situation. The evening had centered on a mix of primetime comedies and the PBS station. He had been careful to avoid any hint of a news broadcast that might show the shooting at the posh beachfront restaurant.
Face made no protest as Hannibal helped him down the hall. Hannibal sat Face on the end of the bed and gently helped him out of his clothes. He took a few seconds to check the bandage and saw that it had only the same thin line of blood that had been there just after leaving the hospital. He quickly stuffed Face into one of his old flannel shirts and coaxed him into bed.
"I need to brush my teeth," Face said groggily.
"Skip it, do it twice in the morning, climb under." Hannibal held up the blankets.
Face got in and shifted down the length of the bed. Hannibal tucked him in. "You okay or do you need a pain pill?"
"Mm, no, I think I took one about an hour ago, it must be working." Face said groggily.
"Ok, good night." Hannibal made to go, but Face grabbed his wrist.
"Stay for a second, okay?"
"Sure." Hannibal sat back down on the edge of the bed.
There was a long silence and Hannibal had thought that Face had drifted off to sleep until Face said simply, "I'm sorry."
"It wasn't you fault, Face, the girl was disturbed." Hannibal said softly. He started to reach out and push a strand of hair back from Face's forehead, but when Face flinched he dropped it without comment.
"I guess I should have known. Shoulda seen it somehow." His tone was low and sad. Face prided himself on being able to read people.
"Sh." Hannibal said softly and ran a hand up and down Face's leg. "You couldn't have known, and you tried to tell me, but I wasn't listening. I'm sorry."
Face's eyes blinked heavily and he looked like he wanted to say more, but words wouldn't form.
"Go to sleep." Hannibal said softly. Face blinked one more time and his eyes closed and stayed closed. His long brown lashes lay in crescents against his cheek. Hannibal stayed for another minute, realizing again how lucky they were not to have lost Face today. For some reason, none of them had expected that kind of violence from a woman.
He rose to go, thinking how the world had changed. He looked back at Face sleeping and vowed to be more careful next time. "Hannibal?" Face mumbled softly.
"Leave the light on in the hall, okay?"
"Sure." He replied softly as he pulled the door partway shut. He lingered for a minute and leaned against the door jam. He watched Face shift and settle in his sleep. Face took a shuddering breath but his eyes stayed closed. Hannibal frowned and shook his head.
Hannibal shoved away from the doorway and came back down the hall to sit heavily in his armchair, resting his elbows on his knees. He put his head in his hands and tangled his fingers in his short silver hair. "So, how's he doin'?" BA inquired as he helped Murdock unfold his bed.
"We're back to sleeping with the lights on, but I think he'll be okay in a day or two." Hannibal's voice was weary. Face always said he wasn't afraid of the dark, he was afraid of what came out of the dark.
"It's just the meds." Murdock said speaking from experience in a very reassuring tone. " Don't worry, they just play with your mind. He'll be okay." He sat cross-legged in the center of his bed. "What about this girl? When the cops can't find the Jones family, do you think she'll get away with it?" Murdock was very worried that Chloe Martin might get out and start to follow Face again.
Hannibal shook his head. "I don't think so. She seemed pretty messed up to me. Face said he didn't use the name Mitchell with her, so she was ranting about somebody else. But I'll have Amy follow up on it."
They all nodded in agreement. "You want to sleep out here, BA? I can sleep with Face if you want." Murdock looked longingly down the hall.
"No, you ain't eating cookies in my bed. I can take care of Face if he needs anything." BA said with a frown. Murdock wanted to argue, but the look on BA's face was enough to convince him that Face was in good hands. BA's concern wasn't just for Face. Face's drug induced dreams were sometimes very weird, and very vocal, and BA didn't like to let the crazy fool be exposed to that if he didn't need to be.
"Then let's all retire, gentlemen." Hannibal said, standing up. "Murdock, keep the volume low. If you wake him up, I'll murder you," he finished with a mock frown.
Murdock smiled. "And I'll help him hide the body." BA added with a growl that was just as good-natured.
"I'll be good." Murdock said as he pushed the Mute button off and turned the sound down very low. "Okay?"
"Okay. Good night."
Hannibal got up the next morning and went in to check on Face, but the bed was empty. BA was turned on his side, sound asleep. Hannibal went softly down the hall and saw that Murdock too, was sound asleep, flat on his back, with every pillow in the room stacked around him as if he'd fallen asleep while playing Žfort'. Face was lying on his stomach with his head just inches from the TV watching cartoons and slowly nibbling on his dinner mints. Five of the black wrappers littered the floor at the end of Murdock's bed.
"What are you doing?" Hannibal asked softly so as not to disturb Murdock.
"Nothin'." Face said just as softly. "Couldn't sleep anymore." He popped a whole mint in his mouth and grinned.
Hannibal sat down in his armchair and studied the younger man. "Let's go in my room and talk." He motioned back down the hall. Face flicked a glance at Murdock and muted the TV before following along.
They settled on the bed. Face sat against the headboard and pushed his bare feet under the edge of the covers. Hannibal sat with one foot curled under him and one on the floor. "So, how ya' doing this morning?"
was a long silence as Face considered all his possible answers. He settled on
being straightforward. "I'm okay. It's
starting to itch." Face grimaced as he edged a hand closer to the bandage, but
then let it drop. "Do you think it's my fault that Chloe went psycho?"
Hannibal shook his head. "No, I'm sure she's had this problem a lot longer then she's known you."
"But I must have done something to push her over the edge, to make her try to kill me." He shifted against the headboard.
Hannibal let out a sigh. "I don't know Face. Maybe÷" he started.
"Maybe she saw how wonderful I was and couldn't bear to live without me." Face finished with a grin.
"No, that couldn't be it." Hannibal returned with a grin. "I'm sure that she was just plain crazy."
"Thanks." Face said not letting the irony past him. "You would think that with as much time as I spend in a nut house, I'd be able to recognize the symptoms." He found the blanket covering his feet very interesting and watched as his toes tented it up and down.
"Well, maybe you did. Maybe that's why you were trying to get away from her as fast as you were. And don't knock yourself out, remember that the person you visit in the nut house is not really crazy."
From down the hall they could hear Murdock singing the theme song to George of the Jungle. "You were saying?" Face said laughing.
"Get cleaned up and let's get breakfast started." Hannibal got to his feet and gently squeezed Face's uninjured arm. "And don't put a shirt on until I've looked at that wound."
Face nodded and got to his feet. "Thanks, Hannibal."
"For being there when I needed you."
"It's what we do, kid. It's what we all do." Hannibal was more than surprised when Face gave him a quick hug before ducking his head and dashing out of the room.
"And she did see how wonderful you are." Hannibal added, but there was no one to hear him.
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