Hannibal was just hanging up the phone as BA came in, looking somewhat alarmed.

"Everything okay?"

"Everything's okay. I was just checking with the VA, see how Murdock is. Glad Face had ‘Uncle George’ set up for him. Saves a lot of hassle."

"Yeah. So how's he doing?"

"Better. Dr. Bennett agreed to let him come visit 'Cousin Henry' in a few days. He thinks actually seeing him will help a lot."

"What, he don't still think Face is..."

"He says he knows he's okay, but the doc doesn't know if he really believes it or not. But like I said, he'll be able to see for himself in a few days. They just want to make sure he's stable enough for the trip. Even so, they're only letting him stay for a day or two."

BA nodded. He'd been really worried about Murdock. Even when they got everybody on the plane, the fool had acted like Face was just a pile of laundry. He'd ignored him the whole trip, just kept bugging the Mountie pilot about flying and the Mounties and Canada in general. Benford had arranged for Murdock's return to the VA, while Hannibal had invented a story about a hunting accident. At least he was where he needed to be now.

"Oh, and Gordon called again. The Mounties finally found Richie."


"Well, they'll just be trying the other four."

BA nodded. He'd figured that would happen. He felt little regret. He looked at Hannibal.

"You okay with that?"

Hannibal's features hardened. "I'm okay with that. If he hadn't spooked those horses and lied about the plane, I wouldn't have..." he broke off, stood looking out into space.

"You wouldn't'a had to point that gun at Face." BA stepped closer. "Hannibal, you were only gonna do what you thought was best. And you woulda been right."

"And if that plane had come two minutes later? If I'd fired two seconds earlier? Would you still think it was the right thing to do?"

"Knowin what we knew at the time, yeah, Hannibal, yeah, I woulda. Sure, I woulda raised hell at first. But I woulda come down on your side in the end. And plane or no plane, you'd'a felt like hell the rest of your life. But it still woulda been the right thing to do."

Hannibal didn't say anything, just jerked a cigar out of his pocket and lit it.

"So, ready to go?"

"You gonna tell him, Hannibal?"

"I don't know. I don't know if he'd thank me or hate me. Some day, maybe. Maybe ask him what he would've done, what he would've wanted. When I hear that, then I'll know."

BA nodded again, and they left the apartment. Twenty minutes later they were at the hospital, heading for Face's room.

He was sleeping when they arrived, as usual, and they sat quietly on either side of the bed. BA picked up the Popular Mechanics he'd left there the day before and read that. Hannibal just sat, watching the machines, looking at the man in the bed, staring out of the window. He still had a hard time believing Face was alive. No wonder Murdock was shaky on that. They had come so close...and not only at the camp. Hell, Face had only been moved out of the ICU the day before, nearly a week after being admitted. The doctors still weren't totally happy with his progress, but they weren't as concerned as they had been.

So far, they'd been able to save the leg, too. He had two steel rods in there now, but the doctors said once it was healed, it would be just as strong as ever. There was still a chance the infection would make a comeback, but they were pumping him full of drugs to try and prevent that, and were optimistic.

It was going to take a long time before Face was himself again, that they knew. It wasn't just a matter of the leg. He'd almost had a complete system shutdown, and he would have to take it easy in a number of areas for a while. And then start building himself back up again. That was okay. They had all the time in the world.

He looked up when he heard a sigh coming from the bed. Face had his eyes open, looking lazily around the room. He saw Hannibal, and smiled tiredly. Hannibal grinned back.

"Hey, kid."

Forest Bear