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By Emma Peel


Rating: G

Summary: Face tries not to think about the future

Note: More random ramblin' I'm afraid




Sometimes, he'd look at the cards and that's all he would see; cards. No

patterns, no wins. Sure, he was the numbers guy, the sharp mind, the fast

moving conman. But still, some days it was all just shapes and colours

blurring together. That was the real difference, the reason Hannibal would

lead and he would follow. Where Face saw shapes, Hannibal saw the result,

the big picture. Hannibal was relentless in his pursuit of the perfect hand.


Some days Face could make sense of it. Just some days.




He'd never been much of a drinker, and there weren't so many places left to

hide. Not so many people to take him in, to give shelter. Well, he was the

charmer, wasn't he? No one wants to see the tarnished edge of the silver



So mostly he'd drive, or go for a long walk. Maybe go see the game, if there

was one on. Any kind of game, any place there were other people. Where it

wasn't just him, staring back at himself, staring into himself. But not

people he knew; no one he'd have to get close to. No one who'd try and get

inside the darkness in his head, no one who wanted to help, because when

they wanted to help, it stirred it all up again. And when he was almost

there, when he was almost ready to talk about it, when, for once, instead of

winging it, he'd rehearsed and rehearsed, and tried all the words out, and

got them all arranged so they made sense; when he was nearly there...


When he was nearly there, that was when they left.


Hope can be the most dangerous thing of all.




Sometimes there was no game. There was nowhere to walk, there was nowhere to



He might go over to BA's, help him out, work on the van with him. Even get

his hands dirty. They worked comfortably together, without words. Once in a

while he'd drop something, or struggle with a stiff bolt and the spanner

would recoil into his hand, and he'd fight to keep in the curses - BA wasn't

one for swearing.


When Face made mistakes, a mass of white teeth would grin back at him, and

BA would chuckle. Face felt welcome there. BA didn't smile very often, and

it was nice to be the cause. He guessed maybe that made him a little more

clumsy than he really was. Sometimes he played to the audience.




He didn't visit Amy often. She was pretty and smart, and although he tried

to see her as 'one of the guys', well... she wasn't. The times they passed

themselves off as husband and wife were a little too much fun to be

comfortable. While she was wise to his tricks, there was a danger - and

maybe he flattered himself over the degree of danger, but it was there, and

he could feel it - there was a real danger that he might believe it a little

too much, and she might let him. Might even fall for it herself.


Already she knew him too well. His real name, his background, how he lived;

more than any other woman had in a long time, maybe all his life.


That wasn't the disconcerting thing. It was the way she could predict his

reactions, knew how he would act, speak, feel. The attributes that made them

such a great working team were those he feared finding most in the outside





Murdock? Murdock was probably the person he felt most comfortable spending

time with, but was, of course, the person it was most difficult to see.


Murdock understood without saying a word. His whole life was one series of

distractions. Games, videos, playing dress up, even the planes and 'copters

were just big toys, it seemed.


Murdock would always come through when it counted. He knew what reality was.

He just chose to avoid it. So, in theory, Murdock's strange, distorted

universe made the perfect bolt hole.


It could also be unsettling though. Because Face could see how similar they

really were. If anything, Murdock was simply more honest in choosing to



If Amy knew him well, Murdock knew him better.





One night, restless and unable to sleep alone in yet another strange bed,

Face had slid a white tennis sock, new from the packet, onto his hand,

making a mouth between his thumb and forefinger. He'd watched his silent

companion moves its 'jaws', yet remain mute. He didn't have the words to put

there. He didn't have anything he wanted to say out loud. When you said it

out loud, it became true.


Maybe that was the difference. In Murdock's world, things only had to be

true for the moment they were said. There were no tomorrows.




Hannibal was easiest to deal with. They would make plans, plot for

contingencies. Have fun coming up with lists of new ways to scam Murdock out

of the VA, each more outrageous and audacious, laughing as the ideas grew



They would go over hide-outs and escape routes. They would look at the state

of the market and investments. Make sure things were still on track for

retirement, although that, Face didn't like to dwell on.


When Hannibal couldn't work any more, there would still be a long time left

to be alone. However hard he tried, Face just couldn't see himself as a

proud father, or settling down for a few rubbers of bridge with the rest of

the pensioners. Hannibal made it sound like they'd be running scams forever,

and however unrealistic that was, Face found it comforting.


Forever would only last as long as Hannibal, though.


Hannibal didn't let him off with much; or if he did, they both knew he was

doing it. And Face liked that, that there was a touchstone, a constant.

Someone who would always be there for him, who would always take him in,

take him back.


He remembered something about home being the place they have to take you in.

He wasn't so sure he'd take himself back, sometimes.


Women lived longer than men, didn't they? So maybe there would still be some

options, later on. Or maybe the nurses would be as pretty as the ones down

at the VA.


Would it make a difference, to any of them, if they were pardoned? If

Murdock knew his companions were living openly, weren't going to vanish

overnight, would he make more of an effort to keep in touch with reality?

Would BA be able to do more for his community?


And Hannibal. What would Hannibal do?




Some days, Face saw the cards just fine. Saw the patterns. Saw where the

money was.


Some days, Face let Hannibal win.







Gin by Emma Peel



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