Send Comment Card

Please Send This Author Comments!
This page last viewed: 2017-10-20 and has been viewed 433 times

Salvation

Authors:  Quentillian & Nora

 

Chapter Twenty-two

Face getting into heroin. It was the last thing that Cruiser expected to hear. Stupid waste of fucking space. It put Cruiser's teeth on edge. Face fucking knew better. The day Hannibal had put him on the team they'd started untangling the mess he'd landed in with Thai. Thai was no third rate drug runner and Face had landed in bed with that motherfucker too. He'd never used though. That was the one redeeming quality Face had back then. Now? Cruiser shook his head as he flipped open his med pack to grab the vials of narcan and a couple syringes for Hannibal. Now it was just a stupid fucking waste.

If Face wanted to do heroin that was his call. Cruiser was just glad it happened stateside instead of while he was here in Vietnam. The last thing any of them needed was to watch that shit. Cruiser had seen it before with his uncle. Dude would disappear for a couple of months and then show back up to get high with his biological dad. Every time. Then aunt Michelle would show up screaming and pissed off and get into it with Uncle Dave and Cruiser's dad until they were all red in the face and Cruiser was scared to death his dad was going to hit someone. But that never happened when Aunt Michelle and Uncle Dave were there. No, that waited until later in the night, after his dad had drank the rest of the day away.

At least his piece of shit dad never bothered to tell anyone he was going to get clean and things would be different.

Zipping his bag closed, Cruiser turned to Hannibal. "This stuff is an opioid antagonist. Your body likes it more than the narcs, so, instant sobriety." He handed everything to Hannibal and took a seat at the rickety table.

"I've never heard of it. Have you used it before?"

"Yeah, I used it once in the MASH on a guy that was hypoxic." Cruiser leaned his elbows on the table. The young medic for the team had given his patient all the morphine he'd had. Fresh out of school, it was all the medic could do to manage the guys pain after a mortar attack. Problem was, morphine took a few minutes to reach peak effect, turned out sixty milligrams of morphine would not only take care of all your pain problems, but it would knock out the respiratory drive of a Rhino. "You can give it two ways. Either in the muscle or mainline it in the vein."

"Mainline best?" Sometimes it was easy to forget that Hannibal was cross trained as a medic. Then he'd remind you with shit like that.

It was a good question, but it boiled down to a judgment call and experience. Hannibal didn't have the experience to make the call. "Depends. How bad do you think it's going to be?"

"I think he's trying to kill himself but the survival instinct won't let him just use a gun." Hannibal took the time to light a cigar. "When I show, he'll try harder."

It was a cold and straight up fact. Hannibal never pulled punches and Face never half assed anything. "If he's bad enough you need to use this shit, you mainline it if you can find a vein. If he's been using for a while though, his veins are going to be all chewed up."

"He'll have been using for a while. Not too long after I cut him loose." For once Hannibal sounded tired. "I should've asked him, but I was too damn sure I was right. I screwed the pooch on that." Hannibal shook his head. "But this, shooting up smack, I never fucking imagined that Face would be so ass headed stupid to do that shit."

Pulling in the smoke, Cruiser let Hannibal talk. Dude had enough on his shoulders, carrying around Face's bullshit on top of it all had Cruiser's teeth grinding. It was the same shit that Cruiser had always seen with drugs though. Pure selfishness. If Face wanted to die with a needle in his arm that was his choice, but to think that it wouldn't affect anyone else, was bullheaded, self centered crap. "You didn't put a needle in his arm." Cruiser watched Hannibal for a long moment. One of the reasons he had Cruiser's respect was that he owned his mistakes. But not all of them were his to shoulder. "How far are you going to fight him on this?"

"I let him go once, I can't make that mistake again." Hannibal took a deep pull off his cigar, studying the smoke trail in the heavy air before adding, "But I think the real question is how far will Murdock go."

"You know Murdock will fight him all the way." Those two had always fought long, hard, and bloody. It was stupid determination they'd all had to break up more than once.

"If I lose one, I lose both." Hannibal met Cruiser with that look that went through him. It was just as haunted as he'd seen when Hannibal had been sending letters home to the mother's and father's of the dead.

It was all the answer Cruiser needed. There would be no midway point on this. If Cruiser was honest, he'd expected nothing less from Hannibal. That was the world he lived in, the rules were simple; Go home or die trying. Smoke wafting between them, Cruiser let it just hang there. "You gonna leave word where you're going to be at the base or some place else?"

"Ad in the LA times. Beta code. I don't want the military anywhere near this."

"We'll send a reply as soon as we land on friendly soil with an ETA." Cruiser and BA be a couple weeks behind Hannibal. Just enough time to wear anyone down to the point where they needed a break.

"I'll be waiting." There was a long pause, both of them smoking. Hannibal wasn't done yet, there was more on his mind. It was just a matter of him getting to it. "Murdock was barely holding on when he left. Seeing Face using, especially heroin, sent him over the edge. It's nothing but pure stubbornness and loyalty that's kept him from exploding yet."

Cruiser had no possible way to fathom how those two would interact. History said poorly, and that was without Murdock bordering on lunacy then and Face being a smackhead. It was too volatile to predict on either end.

"I have the Narcan for Face. Do I have anything for Murdock?"

"To tranq him?" Cruiser didn't hide the surprise. It hadn't been too long ago that they'd been down that road. It wasn't something he wanted to make a habit of, but Hannibal was going to have his hands full. "I can get you versed. Same stuff I gave him last time."

After a long second Hannibal nodded and dropped a hand on Cruiser's shoulder. "Thank you, Daniel."

Cruiser nodded, holding Hannibal's gaze instead of dropping away from it. He was in for a fight and Cruiser knew it. Hannibal knew it too and was charging in full speed ahead. But this time it was a battle operation with a plan and mission specific weapons. "Just don't let Face get into the versed. I'm sure if he's using heroin he knows about benzo's."

"I'm sure Face knows a hell of a lot he won't ever be able to forget."

XXXXX

Stumbling down the street Face could think of nothing more than getting his hands on some heroin. One hit. That was all he needed and the incessant cramping and waves of nausea that had his stomach turning inside out would stop. It would stop, he'd be able to breath again. All with one small hit.

He didn't even want to think about Murdock being out there as he neared Diz's place. Stupid fuck would be lurking around somewhere. Face knew he would, Murdock never left shit alone. Stomach binding, crippling pain was hitting him, letting him know it had been far too long since he'd locked up those memories.

Finally making it up the steps, he barely noticed Leslie's car on the side of the driveway. Of course she would be here. She hadn't been at her place when he had called from jail trying to line up bail. Luckily he hadn't needed it. The Magistrate had thankfully released him on his own recognizance. It was no longer his problem for another six weeks.

Maybe by that time he really would be dead.

Opening his door, Leslie was sitting there on the bed, legs tucked ever so politely under. She looked up from her book as Face went past. She'd want to know what happened and all the nagging questions she could figure out. Face just needed something that would buy him some smack.

"Templeton, you're hurt!" Book forgotten, Leslie was up rushing to him and stopping short. "What happened?"

Hand on the dresser keeping him upright, Face stopped. What was she talking about? Frowning at the attention, Face wasn't quite sure what to do with her. "I'm okay."

"Your lip is swollen and you have a black eye." She took a half step towards him and stopped again, slowly raising her hand to his cheek. "Were you in a fight?" Leslie was looking at him wide eyed.

"Yeah, kind of." He had been. Stupid Murdock always left his mark. "It's nothing." Grabbing her wrist with hands that wouldn't stop trembling, before she could actually touch him, he took a step past the dresser, further into the room, letting her go. "It was yesterday… or the day before… something."

"Templeton, please tell me what's wrong."

"Nothing!" Goddamn she was persistent when she wanted to be. Pulling one of the top drawers out of his dresser, Face let it drop to the floor among the rest of the crap that had wound up there over time. It had to be there. He hadn't remembered it until a few hours after Murdock had been released. Hand fishing in open cavity now, Face felt along the underside of the top of the dresser. It had to be there. Come on. He barely remembered putting it there. "Leslie, I'm fine. There's nothing wrong, I just got into it with some stupid fuck who can't let shit go." Yes! his fingers finally landed on the cool metal of a key that he'd taped up there. Heart pounding in his chest with anticipation, Face could feel the relief already flooding into him. This was going to work.

"Is it your friend, from the army. The one who keeps writing you?"

"He's not my fucking friend!" He didn't bother trying hide the frustration as he pinned her down with his eyes wishing like hell she would just for once understand that.

"Then who is he?"

Her hand went to her neck, to toy with the damn gold cross that she always wore. Except it was gone.

"He's just some idiot that won't leave me alone." Shaking his head, Face let it go, taking a step up onto the sagging mattress and onto the side table. Face ignored the crap that fell to the floor to make room for his feet. Focusing instead on keeping his balance as his guts twisted and ached, protesting this forced sobriety. Face took a deep breath, gritting his teeth and reaching up to the trap door that lead to the crawl space in the ceiling. Pushing the cheap acoustic tile out of his way, Face thought only of that box he'd shoved up here. It had to still be here. Had to.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing." Face poked his head up through the ceiling. Thank God. There it was. A small locked box and he knew exactly what it held. Reaching for it, Face pulled it close enough to fight the key into the lock and twist it open until he heard the most satisfying click on earth as the lock popped open. Lifting the lid Face grabbed the 1911. Face had locked it up where he couldn't get at it without intent after he'd woke up in a cold sweat, gun in hand, and the safety off. It would be enough to stop the withdrawals. Depending on how good a mood Bones was in, it might be enough to hold him over for a few days. It was glorious.

A sharp wave of nausea reminded him that he needed to get moving before he got even worse. Slipping the gun into the back of his pants, Face jumped back down to the floor.

Leslie grabbed his arm in both hands before he had a chance to move. "What in God's name are you going to do with a gun?"

"Nothing, Leslie." He was too tense, fighting to keep his shit together. The withdrawals were getting to be too much. "I'm not doing a damn thing with it. Just let it go, it's none of your concern."

"Don't! Don't you dare shut me out!" Christ of all the times, she picked now to demand an explanation from him.

"Leave it alone, Leslie!" He ground out through clenched teeth. "It's got nothing to do with you." He was sweating, the cramps in his stomach getting stronger and more persistent. He needed to get out of here. Get straight before it was too late. "Let go of me."

"You're hurt and sick and you want to leave here with a gun! Please don't go. Don't do this. I'm so very scared for you."

He let out a dry laugh that didn't belong in the room. "I'm fine. I'll be back tonight. Now. Let go of me. Please."

"Please, don't go. Stay, pray with me." She had his arm in a death grip. "Please."

For God's sakes. Face twisted his arm out of her grip. "Praying's never done me a damn bit of good." Heading to the door, Face pulled his flannel over the gun that was resting in the small of his back.

She grabbed him again. "No! Please, just stay with me. We can think of something else, do something else." She was talking faster than he'd ever heard her, yammering on a mile a minute, all nonsense. "Please, we can talk about it. Please, please don't go like this. Please, I'm afraid you're going to die." By the time she finished there were tears streaming down her cheeks.

He shoved her backwards, getting her away from him. His forearm landing across her chest, pinning her against the wall as he leaned in closer than he should have and let her see just how dead he was. "I don't give a fuck if I die. I'd eat a Goddamned bullet right now if I could!"

Tears rolled down her cheeks but she didn't stop. "I care. God cares…"

His fist cracked against the plaster next to her head. Some part of his brain registered the flinch and the way she screamed. "Your God can go fuck himself for all I care."

Suddenly his head was snapping to the side, taking the rest of his body with it. Hitting the floor, momentum had him rolling, his vision flashed white, as he finally ending up in with his back against the wall. Spots danced in the edges of his vision, he saw Murdock, come towards him. Goddamn, somehow his hands found what had to be the ground. Instinct had him pushing himself up when a boot hit his chin he fell right back down into a pile.

The world was out of focus, black around the edges, but the threat was still there and had him kicking out where he somehow knew Murdock would be. One leg knocked out from under the lanky pilot and every ounce of strength Face had to wrap himself around Murdock's waist and they were suddenly both on the ground in a heap.

Murdock used the drop to his advantage, rolling them over. Feet planted on the floor, Murdock's head came back, hard. If Face's head hadn't of been turned he would have had a broken nose. As it was his cheek took the brunt of it. It was more than enough force to have him letting go. He was exhausted from the energy he had already spent. It took everything he had to get the world back in focus.

When it finally did, Murdock was standing over him. Face's own gun was in his hand. Something about the look in Murdock's eyes had Face pinned to the floor. That look, even in his drug leached brain, he knew that look. It should have terrified him, he should have been afraid. instead he laughed. Deep and dark and soulless. That look was a relief. "Do it you stupid fuck."

Murdock pulled the trigger. There was nothing but a dry click.

Face's empty laugh echoed off the walls and over Leslie's muffled sobs from the other end of the room. Of course it had to be empty. A few months ago when he'd cared, he'd made sure to unload it. Fuck him. Fuck Murdock. Fuck everything in this God forsaken world. He couldn't even buy a bullet to the head right now.

Something under Murdock's skin shifted and changed. Face couldn't see it, but he could feel it. Just like he felt things crawling under his own skin. Never taking his monster eyes off of Face, Murdock stripped down the gun, pulled the firing pin, swallowed it, and put the gun back together. Putting himself between Leslie and Face, like an animal marking his territory, Murdock tossed the now useless weapon at him. "Get out."

"What the fuck do you expect me to do with a worthless gun?" Oh God, what the hell was he going to do? That gun had been his only shot and Murdock had just fucking swallowed the important part like a tic tac. Face pushed himself up to his feet, grabbing the gun on his way up. "You stupid fucking idiot, do you have any idea what you've done?"

"I disabled your weapon and ensured it wouldn't end up being used to kill someone after you sold it for a hit." The bastard had the balls to stare at him all sorts of empty eyed. "You ain't getting anyone but us killed."

Face was shaking his head. This wasn't happening. "It's all I've got Murdock. Please… just…" What? He couldn't get the firing pin back. His eyes slid closed, hands shaking. Face wasn't sure if it was the cramping and nausea or knowing what his only out was. "Give me some cash or something just don't make me do this."

Murdock stood there, watching him, reading him for a long moment until under the ice, something dark and shadowy made a choice. Grabbing his wallet, Murdock pulled out a twenty, wadded it up and tossed it out the door. "Go."

Face didn't think twice before going for the cash, grabbing it with a sigh of relief. He'd be at Bones' place inside twenty minutes and feeling straight again. The skin crawling, bone deep aches and waves of nausea held at bay. He could could already feel that sharp prick in his and that warmth taking hold of him. His whole body wanted it. Craved it. Couldn't live without it anymore. Face was perfectly fine with that. He'd spend the rest of his days stoned out of his head until there was nothing but deep, quiet blackness.

XXXXX

The second Face was gone, Murdock shut the door to the disgrace of a room that Face called his. It was too much; too familiar, too stupid, too wasteful, too painful. It was Lanie and memories of alleys and beatings and the stench of desperation. It was China and pain and it had Murdock's body shaking and his stomach threatening to return the firing pin he'd put in the one place he knew Face couldn't talk him into giving it back from. Leaning his back against the wall and closing his eyes tight, Murdock almost forgot about the girl. She was still against the opposite wall with a fist sized hole in it, shaking and terrified. He'd seen that look before, he'd even felt it himself. He felt it now. That first time you saw the hollowness for what it really was, in someone you loved. Murdock was going to have to talk to her. No matter what she needed to understand one simple fact. Face wasn't safe.

Face wasn't even Face anymore. Murdock had been too late for that. What was left walking around was just heroin wearing all of the pain and anger that Face couldn't cope with like a pelt. Just like Lanie. No, Murdock wasn't a scared kid trying to protect his sister from the johns and the drugs. He was a man, and he'd made a promise. He needed to live up to that, he needed Face sober long enough to ask, to see if the demon was loose.

He had to try to save Face or they had to die. It was that simple.

A shuddering sob ran through the room, compelling Murdock to open his eyes. The girl was there, hands shaking as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I don't… he…" She looked completely lost, trying to figure out what to think or say. "Templeton is in trouble." It was too quiet. She was still in shock. "He never…" The thought was lost to another sob.

Face was a damn good con.

"My name's Murdock. What's yours?"

It took her a bit but eventually she got herself under control. "Leslie." The shakiness was there in her voice, but the way she stood a little straighter and tried for a deep breath was enough to show him she was working toward her new normal. He smiled a little at that. A spark of fire in her was good and what she needed to do would take a lot of strength on her part. On all of their parts, but he knew what he was getting into. "Murdock." Her eyes narrowed on him. "You're the one that keeps writing."

"Yeah, I'm not real good at quitting."

"I don't know what's wrong with Templeton. I've never seen him like this before." Shaking her head, almost pleading for Murdock to understand that this was not the Faceman she'd grown to know and love. "He just… He won't let me help."

"That ain't him, that's the drugs talking." Murdock made it as blunt and hard as possible. Leslie had all the earmarks of a good, sweet girl, who loved and thought life was full of fairy-tales and goodness.

"Drugs?" Leslie stood there looking at him like he was insane. "Templeton doesn't do drugs. He's a good man. He's just… confused and… and angry."

"He's an addict and all you're seeing is the heroin." Until that stuff was out of his system, Face would become less and less. "Think about it, have you seen him losing weight, caring less about how he looks, marks on his arms, legs, hands, feet? He start losing things, borrowing money?" Murdock didn't need to hear the answers, he knew all too well how it went.

She tried to make words from, refute what he was saying, but Leslie was a smart girl. Lying to her was Face's game, not hers. "Oh my God." Suddenly her look went from baffled to concerned. "He has a gun!" She took a step towards him. "We have to stop him. He's going to get himself killed."

"He's got a useless hunk of metal, I swallowed the part that makes the gun work." Murdock forced his voice into the deep, sure tone that Hannibal used so well: he knew what he was talking about and he needed Leslie to get it too. "Face is gonna take the cash I gave him and get high. When he comes down he'll be back looking for more money."

"But I don't have anything left." Her hand went to her neckline. "I gave him my necklace." He could barely hear her voice. "He couldn't have put that towards drugs." It wasn't said to Murdock, and she didn't believe it herself. "What are you going to do?"

"He's too far gone for me to handle alone." He couldn't hide the sadness that was in his voice admitting that. "I got a friend coming in. I'll get him clean or die trying." It hurt to know which it would be. Death was the only place he and Face hadn't been to.

"I never thought I'd be afraid of him. He was always so nice and caring. Not like any of his friends. But he wouldn't talk to me about what was bothering him. I prayed and prayed that he would find the peace he deserved."

"He can't stop. The Faceman I knew wouldn't of touched the stuff in the first place. He never had a chance of fighting it if he was willing to use." The truth was as bitter as ever.

"Templeton deserves a chance. But I'm not strong enough to give it to him.." She nodded, understanding what he was saying. Working hard to accept it as the truth. "You and your friend know him? From before?"

"He's my best friend." Saying it out loud, like that, in the shitty little room, had Murdock's eyes filling with tears. "I saved his life, he saved my soul." The smell of blood and the feel of mud and rain and jungle sounds threatened to take over. He couldn't do that, not here, not now. "He did, not the junkie he is now, but the real Face."

She was watching him closely, open and nonjudgmental. Just accepting in a way that so few had. No wonder Face had managed to find her. If anyone needed the safety of complete acceptance, it was Face. "Then I think you're his only hope. He has such deep, soulful pain. I can see it in his eyes, but I can't get close enough to touch it."

She took a step towards him. Somehow their roles changed in that moment. Her hand reached out and found his cheek. Light and gentle, so different from they way anyone touched him, reverent almost. Eyes full of concern and understanding of a problem far too dark for her.

"You can't get close. It'll destroy you. Only the damned can go there." They'd all been damned long ago.

"I know that now." There was only peace in her eyes. The one thing Murdock had never know on the ground. "I know what I have to do. Thank you, Mr. Murdock." She tucked her head just slightly, leaning in on her tiptoes, she gave him the softest, most gentle kiss on the cheek he'd ever had. Feather light. the blessing kiss of an angel. "I'll be praying for you all."

It was a true moment of peace, stilling and calming all the noises in his head. It was priceless. No wonder Face gravitated to her. She was peace and forgiveness and goodness; all the things they weren't. Things not of their world. And here she was granting him absolution for the past, understanding and strength to do what he had to in the future.

"Thank you." Simple words could never express how much he meant that. It was a small nod, her hand removed, an understanding smile.

"God has answered my prayers, you're Templeton's hope." The girl was leaving, her back straight and an aura of peace that wasn't there before radiating from her. "Thank you Mr. Murdock, for coming to him and for helping me find my way." She was gone from the room before either of them could say anything else.

 

Chapter Twenty-three

There was only one reason why Face hadn't stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger; heroin. Instead of eating a bullet Face let the smack work it's magic, lulling him further and further into its warm embrace, letting reality float away. The wind of the road rushing past only added to the disconnect. He wasn't sure who was driving. Someone Marco knew; they'd helped him to the car where he'd sank into a flaccid pile of limbs and let the heroin do it's job. He didn't care anymore, hadn't for a long time.

A weekend of sex and debauchery that had secured his place in the lowest level of hell there was, and all Face wanted was to not feel. None of it was real. The hands on him, pulling and holding him, the smell of sweat and slick bodies, too many to keep track of. It was all mixed with drugs and alcohol until everything felt disconnected and he didn't care.

He could die right now, in the backseat of a strange car with voices that were too far away to mean anything, and it would be with a smile on his face and an eight ball in his arm. It wasn't too long before the motion stopped and hands were on him again.

"Wake up man, time to get the fuck out."

Face was on his feet, balance giving up on him like everything else. His whole body free floating and then gravity flipped on, rolling him on the ground. The cool grass and dew soaked through his shirt. Fuck he was going to have to move. Heavy limbs and unclear thoughts, move arms, move legs. He had to get up. He wasn't quite sure how and fuck it if he cared, he wound up on his feet and stumbling into his room. Everything was a blur, like Rikki Tikki Tavi running circles around him; odd shapes and long shadows in places they didn't belong. Good, he fell onto the bed and let the drugs work their magic, sinking into the mattress and and floating away all at once. Fucking perfect

Something was on him, light, wrapping him up, and something was touching his forehead. Face turned his head, away from the attention. He was supposed to be home. There'd been a car. No one in the world but him. No more Face or anchor to anything. That was the deal.

Far away a voice was singing ... you are my sunshine, my only sunshine you make me happy when skies are gray. No. Why couldn't he get away from it? There was a distant whimper mixed with the words. He couldn't tell what was real anymore. Noises and silence and dark, numb touch he couldn't feel but couldn't get away from; it had him trying to force his eyes open and make sure his nightmares weren't getting too close. It was dark and blurry and still too close. Tears welled up in his eyes and ran down his cheeks, adding to the filth of his life. Singing changed to silence and something from his past ghosted over his cheek wiping the tears away.

"Just sleep." It was the same haunting voice from Sunshine and had him curling in on himself in anguish. "I'll take the punches tonight."

XXXXX

Three nights and three days. That's how long Murdock had stood watch over Face's room. He's made marks so he wouldn't lose track. Three, three three, three three.

The holy trinity. Three was all you need if you want Face to be. Murdock's eyes swept the room again, left then right and left again. Three. See there was a pattern and once you had that you could find a reason, right? There had to be a reason. Life couldn't be this fucked just because.

Hannibal told Murdock to stay away, but he couldn't. There was nothing out there but danger. No Murdock on the streets of LA. That would be bad. Very bad. The noise and people getting mixed with the ghosts. No, he needed to stay here and wait. Three nights and three days and three lives and the three ways it ends. One dead, two dead, everyone dead.

After Leslie left, Murdock knew he had to wait. He'd got three bottles of booze and three cartons of cigarettes and returned to Face's room. It took him hours to go over every inch of it; pot, Valium and some heroin. Three, three, three, the devil and me. Murdock knew what to look for and where to find it. He even knew to take anything that could become a weapon. Drugs could make you do funny things, dangerous things too.

The corner by the dresser was his new zone. Crouching down, he'd taken up his death watch; smoking, drinking and waiting. All three. Three ghost stayed and waited with him. Each in their own corner.

He was the only one who knew. Knew what had happened, what Face was doing for cash, knew what happened when you became a thing, knew what it was like to forget. For Face and Lanie forgetting was a relief, and escape. For Murdock forgetting meant letting his guard down and the monsters out.

When they got out it took a blood sacrifice to get them back. A lot of blood. The only thing more terrifying than the monsters in his head was the monsters unleashed. He couldn't keep them in when he was high. He needed control, he needed Hannibal, he needed Face. Three three three.

Without one there was none.

Minutes, hours, days. All lost and twisted, shadows moved, cigarettes burned out, bottles emptied and in the corners they stayed. Waiting. Who would show first? Did it matter?

Fake Face stumbled in, too high to turn on the light, too high to notice the killer in the room. Back exposed, defenseless he dropped to the bed. Facey knew better. He'd let heroin take his will and soul and now it was going for his life.

It was wrong.

He was standing over Face. It would be so easy; one pull of the trigger, one thrust of the knife, and Murdock could end it. Set Face free from the pain forever. He'd made the promise and he'd keep it. He'd do anything for Face. But he'd promised Hannibal he'd wait . . . and seeing Face cold and crying in his sleep had Murdock moving. Poor Face, even heroin had abandoned him.

Murdock pulled the blanket up, an old song filling the room, sending more tears and he was talking saying words that would never be heard to a friend who was just as dead as him. Murdock put a shaking hand on Face's head and rested his forehead against Face's. "Just sleep. I'll take the punches for tonight."

Face moved away from the touch, letting out a low, garbled, string of words that were too high to understand. Murdock didn't need to hear the words. Face reeked of sex, drugs, and despair. Like the back alleys Murdock knew so well as a kid. Trace laughed when Murdock backed away, shaking his head. No more no, no. Done, stop, quit. Hand shaking, Murdock struggled to light a cigarette. No, no, no, threes filled the need. Smoke, drink, watch. Smoke, drink, watch. Hang on, just a bit longer. Hannibal was on his way. God help them all.

XXXXX

It was a slow intrusion of reality. Little noises slipping in, demanding more of his attention, like the deeper breathes that made his chest rise noticeably more, oxygen in his blood, in his head, feeding his brain. He'd lived through it again. Pain was a tell tale sign of life. So was the discomfort in his back making him stir, but there was no getting comfortable. He was sore in ways he'd never imagined from things he'd never imagined. Deep muscles made themselves known when he moved. Eventually it forced him to accept that he wasn't sleeping anymore of the day away. At least not without some help. It was the same old story Face had lived a thousand times over. A new day that same old fucking world. Shaking his head to himself, Face finally forced his eyes to blink themselves open and stay that way. Daylight. Just another maker that he had another day to get through.

Finally sitting upright on the edge of his bed, Face focused on trying to find a way to make his body stop hurting. But no matter what he did, the deep aches and pains were there. He reached over to the dresser for the pipe that was there, only it wasn't. Neither was the baggie of weed that was supposed to be in the drawer, or his fucking lighter. Face slammed the drawer shut. Stupid fucking Murdock. He pulled the second drawer open and found nothing in there too. Fuck! Hand going through his hair, Face spun around and started towards the bathroom. There would be a stash in there. Nothing good, but enough to dull the edges of reality - until he saw it, there in the corner of the room was fucking Murdock, the asshole himself, crouched down in the corner like a ghoul.

The bastard didn't say a word. Fucked up smile on his face, smoke dangling from his lips, Murdock stood up, looking like a fucking vulture spreading his wings.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Face didn't even bother trying for the drugs. Murdock would have flushed them and he knew it. It made his teeth set on edge.

"I told you already, I'm here cause I need to talk to Face."

"Get lost." Face took another step towards the bathroom. Murdock could take all the drugs he wanted to, it didn't change what he had in his pockets. "I told you I'm not interested in this shit."

"You ain't Face, you're just the thing wearing his skin." Fucker followed him.

Face spun around, teeth clenched. "Who the fuck cares, I ain't buying your lines."

"H. mother fucking M. Mother Fucking Murdock cares and I ain't selling shit to you."

"See that's where you're wrong you stupid fuck. Everyone's selling lines and I'm sick of it. You. Hannibal. The priests, the fucking penguins I grew up with. I'm done. I don't fucking need it."

"Nah, you need drugs. You need to feel high to let go and forget. But it aint working so well anymore is it? Needin' more and more and having less and less. Letting them take, so you can get. Do they at least let you get high first? Or do they like to watch you see how low you can go?"

Face shoved him backwards, cutting off the words and taking a quick step towards Murdock, swinging. The asshole was faster though, blocking the blow and shoving him, sending Face backwards 'til he hit the bed and dropped.

"Sell the bullshit justifications to someone else. I'm here to talk to Face, not you."

"Get out of my fucking life!" Face shoved himself back up off the bed. Stupid fuck knew he was better in a fight.

"Nope." Asshole smiled. "I'm staying till I can talk to Face."

Shaking his head, Face glared at Murdock. There was nothing else he could do. The idiot wouldn't leave, and wouldn't listen, Face wasn't going to call the cops to have him removed. He was like a fucking tick. He wanted to talk to Face, he could hold his breath until he died waiting for that to happen. Face shoved past him, moving towards the bathroom. Murdock could fucking wait in the bedroom. Slamming the door shut, Face grabbed the edges of the sink and took a deep breath.

Murdock had cleaned out the bathroom, even taken the mirror off the wall. It figured. Dude never could leave shit alone. No matter how much he wasn't wanted. Face was going to have to leave town to get rid of this monkey on his back. Sitting down on the closed lid of the toilet, Face pulled a dimebag out of his pocket. Thanks to Mr. Straight and Narrow, he didn't have any needles on him to shoot it up. Tapping some of the powder out onto the back of his thumb, Face pressed a nostril closed and inhaled the smack. It was as good as his high was going to get. Nowhere near as good as shooting. Face took a second round, it ought to make up or the slow burn into heroin heaven.

Reaching over, Face turned the faucet to the shower on and waited for that warm high to wrap him up again. It sure as hell wouldn't make him clean again.

 

Chapter Twenty-four

Hannibal Smith had once gone on a mission that had required him to crawl through three foot high grass, mud, and stinging insects, for four days. Ninety-sixhours passing undetected through an enemy camp, Vietcong so close that he could see their socks, and never once had his mind strayed from the task.

Hannibal didn't lose focus.

Until now.

The plane ride from Vietnam had taxed even Hannibal's patience. Things needed done. He had a team to save. His men were in trouble and instead of acting to right the wrongs and fix what was broken he was sitting, stagnant thirty thousand feet in the air.

Murdock said Face was holed up some place a few blocks from the campus. The way it sounded, Hannibal wouldn't be able to mistake it for anything but the filthy drug house it was. Turned out Murdock was right. In a neighborhood of college housing, the overgrown lawn, strewn with garbage and a rusted out VW Bug caught his attention like the sore thumb it was. So did the suspicious eyes and quickly fleeing college students at the sight of a uniform. Let them run, Hannibal hadn't changed and didn't really give a shit if he blended in or not right now.

Half dead bodies and wasted lives littered the house from front to back. Kids with glazed over eyes, passing around pipes, and too stoned to figure out the stranger walking through didn't belong. Hannibal found the first person who looked halfway aware of their surroundings and crouched down. "Where's Templeton Peck?"

The kid giggled like Hannibal had told the best knock knock joke ever. Hannibal didn't have the patience or the time. Grabbing the kid by the front of his dirty tee shirt, Hannibal slapped the kid across the cheek. It was a testament to his control that he didn't hit him hard enough to break anything, keeping it just hard enough to demonstrate his lack of patience.

"Hey man, what the fuck!"

"Good." Hannibal didn't let him go. "Now that I have your attention, I need to know where Templeton Peck is."

"He.. uh… who?"

"Templeton." Hannibal spelled it out. "Peck."

"Templeton… Temp… oh you mean Killer."

"Killer." Hannibal nodded, smiling like the kid was finally figuring out the information. "Right. Now where is he?"

"I haven't seen him in a few days, but his room is in the back on the left." He leaned in towards Hannibal like he was going to share a secret. "Dude knows how to party."

"So I've heard." Letting the kid sag back against the wall, Hannibal pushed himself back up and made his way down the old hallways until he found the last door in the back on the left. Hannibal stood at the door, deadly silent and listening. Murdock would be inside and maybe Face. The way those two fought, he could be walking into anything and he wasn't in the mood for surprises. After a solid minute of absolute silence from inside the room, Hannibal opened the door to be greeted by darkness. Shades drawn, only small ribbons of sunlight filtered through to a smoke filled room stinking of stale cigarettes and stagnant air rife with sweat and rank odors.

Beside the old dresser, dead between Hannibal and what appeared to be a doorless bathroom, was Murdock It wasn't the smell that got to Hannibal. He'd dealt with far worse. It wasn't the dirt or the misery in the tiny room that hit him in the gut like a sledge hammer. No. What had Hannibal stopping, what really got him was the image of his Lieutenant crouched in the corner, surrounded by empty bottles, crumpled cigarette packs, and dirty clothes. There he was staring at Hannibal without a hint of humanity in his eyes.

Hannibal gave it a minute. He'd seen men on the edge before and most of them looked more lucid than Murdock did. It hadn't been that long and his ace pilot had lost weight he couldn't afford to lose. His cheeks sunken in under the facial hair and deep, dark circles under his eyes. How long had it been since he'd showered or eaten? If Murdock looked this bad how bad did Face look? "Lieutenant." Hannibal finally said, making sure Murdock realized he was no longer alone.

Two long, slow blinks and an eerily slow head turn had Murdock looking at him. Cigarette lit and dangling from his lips, Murdock didn't say anything. His expression was as flat as the peeling walls of Face's shitty room. The silence stretched on, broken only by the steady drip of a leaking faucet from the bathroom.

Shutting the door behind him, Hannibal took a slow step towards Murdock, crouching down so that he was eye to eye with his pilot. "Murdock, it's Hannibal, I made it here."

"I waited."

Nodding, Hannibal let Murdock know visually that he understood. "I knew you would." He let that settle with Murdock, seeing the dark eyes get slightly clearer with each exchange. "How are you doing?"

"I've done all the three's. It's got to be three, Real Face, Real Hannibal, and It. Three. It's the only way it works." Murdock took a drag off his cigarette and crushed it out in an overflowing hubcap that was acting as an ashtray, eyes never leaving Hannibal's. "Get in a corner like the others. I gotta wait for Real Hannibal."

It was worse that anything Hannibal had imagined. Face was doing heroin and Murdock had officially lost his mind. Carefully; measured and slow, Hannibal put it as plain and simple as he could. "Murdock, I'm real." He waited, then slowly reached out and touched Murdock's shoulder. "It's really me and we need to save Face." Face always focused Murdock. It gave his mind something to work towards.

Something flickered and Murdock was grabbing Hannibal's shoulder. "I tried so hard, but I can't find him anymore."

"You can't find Face anymore?" There was more to it, nothing Murdock was saying made any sense, there were layers of crazy that needed to be peeled back until reality was found.

"No. All I can find is heroin. Can't get past it to Real Face."

Okay, so Heroin Face and Real Face were two different people for Murdock. Hannibal could see the logic in that. "Do you know where Heroin Face is?"

"In the tub. High."

Hannibal leaned forward a bit, cranking his head to peer further into the bathroom. Sure enough, there in the tub might as well have been a body. He resisted the urge to go check for a pulse. The fact that Murdock was out here standing guard meant Face was alive under it all.

"Thought I got everything, but he musta been holding some. Can't stay that high that long. Went through his clothes." Murdock choked out the last word.

"So this is his last high." It was more to himself, but voicing his thoughts would help Murdock. Looking back at his lieutenant, Hannibal held his gaze. "I need to ask you something Murdock, and I need a straight answer."

"I never lie to Hannibal."

"I know it, kid. But you're struggling right now, I need to know your solid." It wasn't an insult and Murdock would know it. "Can you handle what needs to be done to sober Face up?"

To his surprise Murdock giggled. "I been sobering people up my whole life. I can do it in my dreams." For the first time since he'd arrived Murdock closed his eyes. Just like that he was looking at Hannibal, clearer this time. "I can do it. I have to."

"Is he going to wake up?"

"Not anytime soon. But I can get him up if you want."

"How long has it been since you've eaten?"

"I don't know."

"Alright, we need to get you some food. Then we can deal with waking Face up." Hannibal was going to have some leg work to do. They couldn't stay here to sober him up.

Murdock shook his head. "I can't go out there. No, no way, sir. Ain't safe."

"I know." Hannibal reassured. "I need to make a couple phone calls, figure out where to drag him for the next few weeks."

"Gotta be some place he can't run from, and where no one can hear the screams."

"Yeah." Hannibal tossed that around. It had been a while but an old friend from his West Point days had a cabin at Lake Isabelle. It was worth the quarter a phone call would take.

"There's a motel three blocks over. Give Jack, the guy at the desk, a twenty and he'll turn the phone on in your room."

"Appreciate that Murdock, but a payphone will do. Will you be good for about an hour?"

"I'm good for three."

He wasn't quite sure how to direct that, but Murdock would hold himself together and Face, from the looks of it, would be high for another few hours. "Can you have Face's stuff packed up and ready to go by the time I get back? We'll get everything in the car before waking him up. God knows he won't make it easy." Kid never did.

"Anything worth keepin' is already packed." Murdock nodded at the half full duffel bag at the end of Face's mattress. "The rest of it can be burned."

"Alright, when I get back, you eat and then we wake Sleeping Beauty up." Hannibal pushed himself back up to his feet. "Then he can deal with a whole new reality." Hannibal took the few steps to the door and looked back at Murdock, giving him a chance to say anything else he may need to. When he didn't, Hannibal closed the door behind him and made his way back out through the house littered with misspent youth he'd seen so many men die to protect. He didn't have time to focus on that. Murdock needed food, they needed supplies for a road trip with a pissed off drug addict, and Hannibal needed to find a phone before anything else.

XXXXX

BA pointed at the large wrench in the lineup of tools on the ground. Right on cue there was a chorus of "wrench!" and a small squabble in Vietnamese over who got to hand him the tool. Not surprisingly it was Koala who won. The little girl from the village had bounced back with the resolve that only kids seemed to have. She'd earned her nickname because she had a penchant for climbing up Cruiser and holding on tight in a one armed hug. No amount of grousing and grumbling on Cruiser's part could stop her, not that he really wanted to. But the dude functioned better on insults and vinegar than anything else.

Holding out his hand, BA accepted the tool with all the seriousness it presented. "Thank you."

"You welcome!" The entire group answered, even Lily, the smallest and shyest of the lot tried to work around the English words. Good. At least the kids could learn while they healed. Very aware of who was watching, BA went back to working on the piping. Slower than he would normally go, but just the right speed for kids to follow. Besides, at the rate he was going with requisitioning material they would be out of supplies well before he got the child size showers put together and working. They had more need than goods and more heart than skill.

Where was Face when you needed him? They needed beds and tents and toys and clothes and books and homes; safe homes for these kids. Face could have found all those things in his less than legal way, in no time flat. But no, instead of helping the fool kid had went and got himself screwed up with drugs. Murdock had lost himself when he lost Face and now Hannibal was off trying to keep both of 'em in one piece.

Too bad that was one piece for two people.

Locking the pipe down as tight as he could, BA was about to ask for the file when he saw Mifflin headed their way. He wasn't alone. Picking her way through the mud like cat caught in a downpour was a blond lady who looked like she belong on the cover of Elite Rich White Woman's Daily.

Mifflin was the kinda dude BA usually enjoyed punching. And did. But last week he'd caught the guy handing out candy bars to the kids and a few days ago Cruiser had heard him reading Peter Cotton Tail to them. That bought him some time in BA's book. Setting down the pipe, BA straightened up from his crouched position, folding his arms over his chest. Whatever was going on he'd find out soon enough.

He wasn't surprised when Cruiser stopped his wound checks to join him. The man was an over protective mother hen when it came to the kids. For a guy who would fight a tree for dropping leaves, Cruiser had a deep reserve of patience for kids. That was one of the reasons BA respected him so much.

Cruiser shouldered up to BA, settling in next to him against the plywood wall. The two of them together creating a barrier between Mifflin and the woman and the kids. "What do you think Mifflin's doing with Cruella Deville?"

"Don't look like she here for fun." She was out of place for sure. Before Cruiser could answer, Mifflin was in front of him, looking expectantly for a salute.

Normally BA would let him keep waiting, except BA had made a promise to Hannibal and Mifflin had given Lily that doll. Only snarling a little, BA gave a salute. He didn't bother looking to see of Cruiser did. Even on good behavior, it wasn't going to happen.

Mifflin returned the salute and surprisingly ignored Cruiser's insubordination. "Sergeants, we have a visitor. Bunny Schrowder, allow me to introduce Sergeant Daniel Stone and Sergeant BA Baracus."

If she was shocked by their lack of accepting her offered hand, she covered it quickly. For real, they had work to do, they didn't have time to play meet the Queen and BA was covered in dirt and grime. Cruiser had been changing bandages, and for all his quirks, the guy had a thing about germs.

"Where is your commander?" BA looked at Cruiser. What was she yammering about? Mifflin was their commander. "John Smith." She said the name slowly, like they might have trouble understanding. You know, being from the enlisted slums and all.

"I'm sorry ma'am, he is stateside on emergency leave." Mifflin's words had her perfect smile dropping. Cruiser shot BA and confused and somehow amused glance. It was a good thing the man was obligated to good behavior.

Before she could start crying or something Mifflin added "Your charity has a lot of resources Ms. Schrowder, these... gentleman here could better explain some of what is needed." Mifflin looked like he'd swallowed a bug when he called them gentleman. If he was willing to do that then, blondie girl must of had a lot of money to throw around. Money these kids needed.

Cruiser's eyes narrowed on Mifflin. He wasn't someone that they would normally take the word of when it came to vouching for a person.

"We don't usually work internationally, but Daddy said there was potential to broaden the scope of our work here." Bunny sounded like her old man made her memorize that. "But we usually work on raising funds for underprivileged children, so I'm not sure how that could help the war effort."

"Well if you have funds at your discretion, there's a plethora of things to spend it on here." Only Cruiser could take an otherwise well constructed sentence and make it sound like a troll had a said it. Koala didn't let adults talking interfere with her squeezing through the small gap in their legs that had been keeping the kids behind them and climbing right up Cruiser without missing a step. A foot in his trouser pocket, a hand in his shirt pocket, and a toe catching his belt just enough to steady her.

"My heavens, there's a child here!" Man, who even said stuff like that?

"Koala here is one of the reasons I contacted your father. We have a group of children that need more help then the Army can provide." Bunny's eyes widened and flicker back and forth between Mifflin, the girl, and the other kids who were slowly peeking out from behind Cruiser and BA.

"What happened? How did they end up here?"

"We gave 'em vaccines. Their medicine man told 'em they possessed, they can't go home." BA answered before Cruiser could. Best behavior only went so far.

"He took a machete to their arms." It was as controlled and diffuse as BA had heard Cruiser talk about it. "They can't stay here."

Bunny's gloved hand went to her mouth "But they're just babies. What about their parents?"

"They the one's who held 'em down." The truth was hard, but she needed to hear it. More people needed to know about the crazy that went on here. Then maybe they could stop it.

Bunny looked like she was gonna cry, and maybe she woulda except for Koala letting go of Cruiser's neck to point her dirty hand at Bunny and chatter excitedly. Cruiser gave her a bounce, smiling as she warmed up to Bunny.

"What? What is she saying?" Bunny managed to ask.

"She likes your hair." It was the simple truth brought to you by the innocence of a child.

"Never seen no blond woman 'for." BA knew what it was like to have the open pointing and stares. Bunny didn't.

"Oh." He didn't expect Bunny to pull the bobby pins from her hat and bend closer to the girl, offering her an up close inspection. "It's not as lovely as yours, but you can touch it if you want."

Giggling, Koala leaned forward on Cruiser and took a handful of hair, twisting and turning and watching the hair reflecting white in the sun. Not satisfied just to look, she held it close to her face and inhaled, eyes going wide, she turned and said in very slow English, "Pretty."

"Yeah." Cruiser gave Koala a big smile, assuring her that she had used the English word correctly.

Beaming at him she held her prized find up to his nose. "You! you!" She bounced excitedly after each you.

He looked at the little girl skeptically, watching her as he took a big inhale and wrinkled his nose. "Ew, it smells like shampoo!" His lip curled like he'd said rotten cheese and laughed at Koala.

"You bad!" She stuck her tongue out at him. "Pretty!"

"Alright, I stand corrected." he conceded.

Bunny's laugh was unexpected and light, almost out of place, but somehow just right. Before anyone could stop her, Koala dropped her handful of hair and grabbed Bunny's dress. BA wasn't a dry cleaner, but he knew grease and mud were gonna stain her Got to be Expensive Dress.

"Pretty!" Koala looked happily at Cruiser "You! You!"

"Ah no." Cruiser shook his head just a bit. "I don't have enough cute to get away with that without a list of charges getting thrown my way."

"I'm very sorry Ms. Schrowder, the Army will pay for the dress. Just please consider the age and plight of the-"

"Please, call me Bunny," She cut Mifflin off. "And it's just a dress. No harm, no foul." Hair a mess and being mauled by a child, Bunny sounded like she was having high tea. "Now tell me, why won't local charities help?"

"Because the children are Montagnard, the minority people. The Vietnamese consider them to be worthless. Customs, social norms, years of fighting, civil wars, the history here is too complicated to wrap up succinctly. But suffice to say, there is no place in Asia that is safe for them." Mifflin was talking to her, but smiling at the boy who was inching closer, looking for candy.

"Charities here cater to their own kind." Cruiser left it at that.

"Yeah, they look wrong and talk wrong to get help here." BA let the irony in that speak for itself.

Legs still wrapped around Cruiser, Koala launched herself at Bunny. Before he could catch her, her greasy, muddy arms were encircling Bunny's neck and she was giggling as she inspected the sparkling diamond earrings with a big "Ooh."

BA had seen a lot of thing in Vietnam. Life, death, heartache, and blood, but this was the first time he'd seen someone fall in love. He couldn't say exactly what it was, but when Bunny wrapped her arms around the little girl, BA knew. She was holding that girl the same way his momma held him.

"Ms… I mean Bunny." Mifflin corrected. "The truth is we can't get anyone to help these children."

She was still smiling at the girl now fully in her arms and off of Cruiser, but much to his surprise a look of pure hard steel radiated off of the woman named Bunny. "Well, we'll just see about that."

BA looked over at Cruiser, a silent exchange that lacked any protest, before glancing between Mifflin and Bunny. Seems they had a new, unlikely ally.

XXXXX

It was all a blur for Hannibal. A phone call to arrange the cabin, an old friend who was more than happy to help no questions asked. A trip to the store for supplies. Water, a bottle of aspirin for the headache he was getting, and some rope. He hoped like hell he wouldn't have to use it, but Face had never made things easy and Hannibal would bet money that he would not agree to walk out of that house under his own power and take a seat in the car like a good little soldier. No. Hannibal would guess the very opposite, and while he hated the idea of tying him up, Face would get sober one way or the other. His last stop had been for food. For Murdock, and then while ordering Hannibal had realized he hadn't eaten for too long also.

When Hannibal had made it back to the room, Murdock hadn't moved from the corner, nor Face from the tub. It was eerily as though he'd left it forty-five minutes ago. He'd set the food down on the sagging mattress and grabbed the two bags that Murdock had set up there. Taking them back to the car, he tossed them in the trunk with the rest of the supplies and headed back through the house to Face's room. Not even in his younger years had Hannibal seen a frat house look like this. Even the whore houses scattered through Asia bothered to clean up after themselves. Hannibal ignored the whole thing. No one he cared about was going to live like this if he had anything to say about it.

Sitting down on the bed, Hannibal grabbed the bags of Captain Belly Buster burgers and pulled one out. "Come on Lieutenant, we've got to eat so we can deal with Sleeping Beauty back there."

Murdock didn't move. For a minute Hannibal thought maybe he hadn't heard him. Until Murdock flicked his eyes to the bag and then Hannibal. "You first."

"Alright." Hannibal watched Murdock closely as he unwrapped the burger and took a bite. Distrust from Murdock was new and not a welcome change or a step in the right direction.

Murdock was eyeing up the burger like a hungry dog looking at a T-bone. He started to move and stopped, half hovering trying to stare right through him. "How do I know you're Hannibal? Last guy said he was but then he left."

That had Hannibal putting his burger down. "Murdock I want you to listen closely to me. I'm Hannibal. Lieutenant Colonel John Hannibal Smith, you're my chopper pilot in Vietnam, you were my right hand man in China, and I got here an hour ago after you called from jail to help Face. I told you I was going to get supplies and food, and I did. I know this is a lot and your coming unhinged, but I need you to know I'm real right here, right now."

Something, maybe the words or tone or memories got through. Hannibal could see the change in the man like a switch being thrown. Things shifting and clicking through the landmines in his head.

"Please don't leave colonel. I can't do it on my own this time."

Something broke inside of Hannibal. There was too much history that Murdock was reliving. Forgetting about the burger, Hannibal stood up and took a step towards Murdock. The man was hanging on by a thread. Both of his hands going to the sides of Murdock's head, Hannibal stood there looking at deep, lost brown eyes. "Nobody is going through this on their own, Murdock."

Murdock put his hands over Hannibal's, holding them tighter to his head, like he needed them to keep him upright. Eyes shutting tight, Murdock fought an internal battle, wrestling his own demons. Without warning Murdock was grabbing and pulling Hannibal into a tight hug. "I'm glad to see you, sir." As quick as he started he pushed back running his hand down his shirt. "What do you need me to do?"

It was all so fast that had Hannibal not spent his life living a moment at a time it would have made his head spin. Instead, he took it for what it was. Murdock was handing over watch to his CO. "Eat, Murdock. I need you to eat."

Murdock nodded and tore into his greasy burger with the zeal of a starving man. Then again he was. By the time Hannibal finished his burger, Murdock was on his second.

He wanted a cigar and some scotch, something to help him filter out what needed to happen and how. A long term plan. Hannibal didn't have that luxury. It was time to see just what Face had done to himself. Leaving Murdock to finish his meal, Hannibal headed into the bathroom and took a seat on the closed toilet.

Murdock had told him Face was in bad shape, but words didn't do it justice. He wasn't prepared him for just how bad bad could be. A few months ago Hannibal had sent a capable man that never had a shot at a normal life, back to the states for his chance. That man was gone. If Hannibal hadn't seen so many dead bodies before, he may have thought that Face was one himself. It was so far from what Hannibal had thought he'd been sending Face to it wasn't even funny. It was disgusting, a mockery of everything Face could have been. Instead he was wasting away in a dirty cast iron tub that hadn't been scrubbed in years. It had Hannibal's jaw tightening, refusing to accept that this, this absolute destitute, hit to hit life was what Face truly wanted.

No. Hannibal remembered a bright kid that had a larcenous tendency to get in over his head. But it was always done with panache and an exuberance that had caught Hannibal's attention and begged to be molded into a worthwhile cause.

Turning his attention back to the present, Hannibal shook his head at the whole thing. Every once in awhile, far less frequently than he should have, the kid's chest would rise as he took in a raspy breath. Hannibal knelt down at the side of tub. The boy was in his boxers and Tee shirt, scratches, bite marks, and bruises mixed with track marks, old and new littered his body. There was no water left in the tub, just condensation and the sad remains of one of the most charming, charismatic pain in the asses Hannibal ever had the pleasure of working with.

"Jesus Christ, kid." he mumbled. "What in the hell have you done to yourself?"

Stupid. So damn stupid. Hannibal shoved those thoughts away. He didn't have time to deal with them right now. This – his doped up, filthy, malnourished, and dehydrated sergeant who was so stoned out of his fucking mind, that he couldn't be bothered to take a breath often enough to avoid a lovely shade of blue setting in around his lips –needed to be dealt with.

It was time to save his man.

Hannibal wasn't sure just how high Face was, it had to have been a few hours since he used last, and even though he was wasted, Hannibal didn't want to start this off swinging. Hand hovering near Face's wrist, just short of touching him, Hannibal took the path of least resistance. He sure as hell would have all the resistance a pissed of Face could dish out in short order.

"Time to wake up, Sergeant."

Face managed half a head lull, eyes fluttering but never opening before he settled back into the high.

"Let's go, Sergeant" Hannibal let his voice echo off the porcelain, and added a brisk rub of his knuckles into Face's sternum. He was startled to feel the familiar lines of dog tags under Face's shirt. It was the last thing he'd expected, and it had him looking harder, trying to find Murdock's "Real Face".

Face started at the contact, suddenly awake and flailing in panic and fear. Hannibal pinned his wrist to the tub before he could swing, but it was more like a scared child swatting at the Boogie Man then the trained fighting machine Face had been. Unable to beat Hannibal back, Face pulled back as far as the tub would allow and curled into the wall away from Hannibal. "Jesus Christ."

"He ain't here right now either." Murdock was behind Hannibal, speaking in odd flat tones. "Ain't a good idea to touch him right now." It was a sad statement made worse by the fact that it wasn't sad.

"We need to move him."

"It thinks you're one of them."

"One of who?" Hannibal was keeping an eye on Face while talking to Murdock.

Slowly, Face uncurled from himself, uneasy and distrusting eyes focused on them. "What the fuck?"

Murdock was the one who answered. "No fuck, just time to go Peck. Come on, wakey wakey."

There was a delay with how fast Face seemed to be processing things. For a moment Hannibal thought he might not fight, instead running a hand back through his too long hair, getting it out of his eyes. "I'm not going anywhere." Turning to Hannibal, Face just frowned like things weren't making sense. "What are you doing here?"

"Come to get my man out of trouble."

"Yeah?" Face pushed himself up in the tub. "Well you came to the wrong place."

"Doped to the gills moron, no cash, no promise, no hope. Nah, old Hannibal here hit the mark. Definitely X marks the spot." Murdock had lost the insane edge, in it's place was anger.

"Fuck off." Face sneered at Murdock and took a step out of the tub, determined to leave the bathroom and the both of them behind.

Hannibal went to grab him, but Murdock shifted, blocking Hannibal from making contact and Face from getting past. "Already told you no."

Face looked like a cornered animal, jaw tight and eyes getting frantic and desperate. "Move."

"Enough." Hannibal stood up and put every ounce of his considerable command into that one word. "You're coming to spend a few days with us. You can either walk out of here, or we carry you out. Your call Sergeant."

"I'm not going anywhere with you."

Hannibal didn't answer. Even high as hell, Face would fight to the death. It was easy enough to avoid that. "Excuse me, Murdock." Murdock turned just enough to give Hannibal all the room he needed to hit Face with a solid left hook. Hard enough to have the kid crumbling. He would have bounced off the side if the tub if Murdock hadn't caught him.
"Yup, you're the real Hannibal alright."

"The one and only." Half stepping into the tub, Hannibal took one of Face's arms and dropped it over his shoulder, Murdock did the same with the other. "Let's get Sleeping Beauty to his new place before he wakes up and charms us some more."

"Yes, sir."

No one so much as looked up at them, as they dragged an unconscious Face out of his room and through the middle of party central. Out cold must of been old hat in a place like this. Murdock and he managed to weave their way through the haze of dope and questionable music, and without so much as a goodbye, Face was in the back seat of the car with Murdock, Hannibal behind the wheel. "That's one hell of a good group of friends you have, kid."

With the turn of the key, Hannibal shifted the car into drive and started for a place where nobody would be able to hear Face scream.

 

TBC

 


Salvation by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 1 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 2 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 3 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 4 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 5 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 6 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 7 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 8 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 9 by Quentillian & Nora
Salvation 10 by Quentillian & Nora

 

 


Send Comment Card

Please Send This Author Comments!