CHAPTER NINETEEN

BA was trying to talk to him, but Hannibal didn't want to listen. He was saying something about Spiro. As if Hannibal cared. Finally, mercifully, BA stalked away, went over to deal with Murdock. Good. Hannibal didn't want to think about Murdock right now either. He didn't want to think. Not right now.

He looked at his lieutenant. Really looked at him. Noticed that he was wearing his hair a lot longer than Hannibal had realized. He'd have to give him some shit about that. No. No, he wouldn't. Let him wear it as long as he wanted to. What did it matter? Face did his job. He always did his job.

"You would have known something was wrong about that plane, wouldn't you? You would have seen this coming from a mile away." He sighed. Looked down at the revolver, hanging from his fingers. Reached over, twirled the cylinder. Five shots left. Twirled it again.

He looked down at the leg. The bandages needed changing again. The yellowish stain that ran through the center was creeping toward the edges now. He'd have BA help him move Face back in the tent, get it cleaned up. He could do that much. He looked at the syringe, taped to the stretcher. There was enough painkiller for a full dose and a little more. He stared at it. Looked at the revolver. Closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He really needed to change those bandages.

He could do that much.


*****

"Murdock."

"Huh?" Murdock looked up, startled by the voice. He looked around, confused as to where he was. He saw the water, the surrounding woods and mountains, but he just couldn't put it all together.

"Murdock, c'mon. You gotta get outta those wet clothes."

Wet? He looked down. He was wet. Soaking wet. How did that happen? Obligingly, he stood and looked around. Where were his clothes? This didn't look at all like the VA.

"C'mon, man. Over in the tent. Over here."

Murdock felt a hand on his arm and realized it was BA talking to him. No wonder the voice sounded familiar. He allowed himself to be led over to a campsite. He glanced to the side and saw Hannibal, sitting on the ground next to a bundle of clothes. Odd.

"In here. Get changed, then we gotta talk. All of us."

Okay. No problem. He stepped into the tent, and rummaged through the backpacks until he found some of his clothes. He dumped the wet clothes on the ground; he'd take them down to the laundry chute later. He stepped back out of the tent and wandered over to a stool that was sitting there, just waiting for him. Looked around for BA. He was over talking to Hannibal. Murdock waited a few more minutes, and then BA straightened up, shook his head and came over.

"What's up, Big Guy? Laundry day today, huh? I didn't know Hannibal brought his stuff over here, too."

BA looked at him, puzzled. "What you talkin about, fool?"

Now it was Murdock's turn to look puzzled. He nodded at the colonel. "Hannibal's laundry. I didn't know he brought it to the VA. Must be a new service, huh?"

Murdock could've sworn BA was getting all teary-eyed. Nah, BA didn't do that. Must have just gotten something in them.

"Ok, yeah, Murdock. You just sit there for a while, okay? Just...wait for me." BA moved away, walking over to another group of patients.

Murdock sat, his face lifted to the sun, basking in the warmth of another beautiful day. He hoped Face would come and break him out soon.


*****

"Hannibal, Murdock's changin clothes. Then we really gotta talk. We gotta figure out what we're gonna do next. Hannibal."

"We need to get Face back inside. I have to change the bandages. There are fresh ones in the tent yet."

"Okay, Hannibal. But then we gotta talk."

"There's nothing to talk about, BA. It's over. We're done here."

"What about Richie? I mean, man, Hannibal, I never figured you to shoot an unarmed man. Now we gotta take care of two men."

"No, we don't, BA. Richie's got his own people. Let them worry about him."

"Hannibal..."

"I said...just let it go, BA. Turn them loose. Give them the med kit and one horse and turn them loose."

"The med kit? But, Hannibal, we're gonna need that for Face."

"Don't worry about Face, BA. There's nothing left in that kit that he can use anyway. Just be sure to keep one horse."

"What's goin on, Colonel?"

"Never mind, BA. I'll take care of it. Now go untie that filth and get them out of here." Hannibal looked up at him, saw the worry. "It'll be okay, BA." He smiled softly. "Go untie them and then help me get Face inside."

BA stood, shaking his head. He didn't like this, not one bit.

He walked over to Murdock, who started talking gibberish about laundry. It took BA a minute to realize what he was really saying. He stared down at the pilot, shocked. Damn. Damn. They were all fallin apart. Hannibal plannin God knows what, Murdock gone round the bend...and where was he? What was BA Baracus doin? Tryin to act like everything would work out, tryin to act like Face was gonna make it, that everything would get back to normal...He looked at Murdock, told him to just sit and wait. He moved toward the prisoners.

Who was crazy now?


*****

Spiro was lying on the ground, pale and sweating. Roger was just finishing up bandaging the bullet wound. He looked up as BA came over, his automatic pointed at the group.

"We need something for a splint. The bone's smashed."

"Ain't that too bad? You got 10 minutes to take two tents, the med kit and one horse. What you do with them is your choice. I'll have some food ready for you. Then you get your asses out of here."

"What about our guns? We can't go through this place without weapons."

"You gonna have a rough trip then."

BA strode away, listening carefully for any sounds he was being followed. He quickly threw some staples together in a pack and hauled it over to the men. They were standing there sullenly, one packhorse ready. BA saw the med kit stacked neatly on top. He had a moment of indecision about that. Then reality hit with full force and he said nothing as the men moved off, carrying Spiro on a makeshift litter.

Now they'd know what it was like. Somehow, BA didn't think Spiro would last as long as Face.


*****

BA buried the last of the soiled bandages. He went back inside the tent, watching Hannibal. He was carefully filling the syringe with the last of the painkiller. BA wondered about that, knowing Face was oblivious to everything anyway. Hannibal looked up at him, smiled sadly. He placed the syringe on the stretcher, ready.

"I'm going to take a walk, clear my head. You might want to stay with him...I don't think we need to say anything to Murdock, do you?"

"Murdock thinks he's at the VA, Hannibal. But I'll stay with Face until you come back. No problem." He pretended not to understand what Hannibal had said. "You go take your walk. Do you good."

Hannibal nodded and walked out into the woods. He saw Murdock skipping stones on the beach and smiled. It was good to see him happy after all of this. He had an idea he'd stay that way for a while. Long enough anyway.

He didn't go far into the trees. Just far enough so he couldn't see the camp, or the lake. He stood for a few minutes, just listening to the sounds of the deep woods. Birds he didn't recognize. Animals up in the trees, squirrels of some sort. The wind brushing the leaves as it went by. He felt like he was seeing this forest for the first time since they'd arrived. It felt...surreal.

"Well, Face, you couldn't ask for a prettier place, you know. Hell of a lot better than some warehouse in LA, right?" He looked around again, smiling as he'd done when he'd watched Murdock. Yes, this was a good place.

He turned then, and walked slowly back to the tent. BA looked at him closely when he came in, and, without another word, left. Hannibal sat down by the cot, and picked up the syringe. Very gently, he slid the needle into Face's arm, and emptied it.

He sat back, looking once more at his lieutenant. He would wait a few minutes, to make sure the medication was working. He wanted there to be no pain. There had already been too much.

So he sat, and waited, idly twirling the cylinder of his revolver.