CHAPTER THIRTY ONE

Maggie sat quietly in her living room and watched as her house guests got up. She wanted to get an idea of how they were going to set up their daily routine. She had guessed that, with the possible exception of Murdock, they really had no idea of how complicated their lives were going to get. Probably not even Murdock had considered everything.

Hannibal came down first, followed closely by BA. Murdock arrived within a few minutes. No sign of Face. The three men talked quietly among themselves, starting coffee, getting breakfast. Hannibal came in and announced that breakfast was ready and she joined them at the table. It was as she had suspected.

"Where's Face?" she asked innocently.

Hannibal looked at her. "Sleeping. Why?"

"What time does he get up?"

Hannibal looked at her again, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. "It depends."

"On what?"

Hannibal set his fork down. BA and Murdock were looking at her quizzically.

"What's with the 20 questions, doc?"

"Just indulge me for now, John. You're telling me that Face basically gets up whenever he happens to wake up, unless you have plans. Correct?"

"Yeah."

"When he gets up, does he take a shower right away?"

BA answered that one. "I usually tell him to take one after breakfast."

Maggie nodded. "Usually. So not always. Does he take one if you don't tell him to?"

"No..."

"Does he comb his hair? Brush his teeth? Get dressed in clean clothes? Without your telling him to?"

The three men looked at each other. Face didn't do anything unless someone told him to.

"So, do you always remember to?"

Three more looks. Maggie sighed.

"I'm not finding fault, guys. Really. I just needed to know how things were organized, or even if they were. It's not your fault, Murdock," she added hastily. "You were in a routine at the VA - that doesn't mean you were aware of its importance. So, after you get back with the tree, we're going to sit down and set up a schedule for Face. He needs to be getting up at a certain time every day, and getting clean clothes, and a shower, and just taking care of himself in general. But he's not going to do any of those things without a lot of help. He needs to be reminded every day. Until it gets to be a habit for him. The more routine his day becomes, the better able he's going to be able to cope with the things that aren't routine. Because he won't have to think about the every day stuff.

"So, I think we need to get our favorite lieutenant up and moving, so you can go get that tree..."

"Uh, Maggie, " Murdock interrupted with just a hint of mischief. "Uh, BA and I were talking last night. We kinda thought it would be better if we didn't go get the tree. We thought it would be better for Face if he went with you and Hannibal."

Maggie looked at Hannibal. "Hey, this is news to me, Mag."

"See, the thing is, Face is already okay with BA. And he seems to be okay with you, Maggie. It's me and Hannibal he's got problems with. So, going with us, it's kinda like two against one, y'know? Me and Hannibal on one side, BA on the other. But if Face were to go with you two, well, it's a little more evened out. And it would be big step to getting him and Hannibal back on an even keel."

"But what about you, Murdock? You're the one he really needs to connect with if you're going to be working with him."

"Oh, BA and I got that taken care of, too, Colonel. Face and I are gonna take over the living room - just us two - to decorate the tree. You guys are gonna work on some kitchen treats for the decorators. Close at hand but not too close." He grinned triumphantly.

Maggie looked at Hannibal. Hannibal looked at Murdock, then BA.

With an exasperated sigh, Hannibal gave in. "Let's get Sleeping Beauty up and moving then..."