CHAPTER FIFTY TWO

He was not supposed to be there. He was gone. He was dead. He had died instead of Face. He was never supposed to come back to taunt him again. And yet he had. He had. And now Face had to deal with him. Again.

He needed Hannibal. He didn't know why. But without Hannibal, he wouldn't make it. He needed his colonel now. Before he came back.

It was pitch dark out. Everyone was in bed. He'd have to wake Hannibal. He hated to but he couldn't wait. He could feel him, waiting. Waiting for the images to come back so he could, too. Maybe he was the one who sent them. He knew he could get at Face that way. Make him weak, so he could take over again. That's why he wanted Face to hide inside again. So he could come out.

"Hannibal."

His voice was a mere whisper. He'd have to do better than that.

"Hannibal!"

Not much better. He heard someone stirring in his room. One of them slept in his room each night. It didn't matter. Not tonight.

"Hannibal!"

"Hey, Face, it's me. What's the matter?" Murdock. He didn't want Murdock. Not now.

"Hannibal!"

"Okay, okay, just a second, Face, okay? I'll go get him. Just calm down, okay?"

"Hannibal..."

He heard Murdock stumbling through the house, up the stairs. Quiet again. Where was he? Where was Hannibal? Why didn't he come? He needed him now. Now. He could feel the panic coming. Please hurry. He was coming. The other one. He could feel it. He was building strength inside. Hurry, hurry.


*****

Hannibal was being roughly shaken. He opened his eyes part way, seeing Murdock leaning over him. He immediately came wide awake.

"What's the matter? Face?"

"He wants you, Colonel. I don't know why but he wants you right away."

Hannibal was getting out of bed. "Nightmare?"

"I don't think so. I don't know. I woke up and he was calling you. He just keeps calling you."

They rushed downstairs. BA's door was opening as they passed; Mama was already in the hallway.

"Do you need help?"

"Not yet." Hannibal didn't stop to explain. He had to hurry. He didn't know why, he just knew he needed to get down to Face as quickly as possible.

He flipped the light switch on as he came in to the sun room. Face was laying curled up in the corner of the bed, practically cowering. He was white as a sheet, sweating, trembling. Something had frightened him, badly.

"Face, it's Hannibal. What's going on, kid?"

"He's come back, Hannibal."

"Who, Face? Who's come back?"

"Him."

Damn. Who's 'him', for crying out loud? Hannibal had to think fast. Who would Face be so terrified of? Who would come back? Stockwell? No way. Unless Face was completely out of it. Not Carla. Who then? Try another tack.

"How do you know he's back, kid?"

Face gulped, tried to be coherent. "He was at the barn. He told me to take the gun. He wants me to go back inside."

Now Hannibal was really confused. There hadn't been anyone at the barn. And who would want Face to take the gun? Who would...wait.

"Face, is he the one who went after Stockwell? And the truck driver?"

Face looked at Hannibal, relieved. Hannibal knew. "Yeah."

"He's coming back? You can't stop him?"

Face shook his head.

Hannibal didn't know what to do now. Murdock had dealt with this 'guy' before. Hannibal didn't know how he could help.

"What do you want me to do, Face?"

"I...I don't know..." He looked down at the bed, at a loss.

"Okay, Face, don't worry. I'll stay right here. If you feel him coming, you let me know and we'll get rid of him. Together. Okay?" He still had absolutely no idea how to accomplish that but that was beside the point. Right now he had to make Face feel safe.

"Okay."

Hannibal sat on the bed near Face. He nodded to Murdock. He'd take care of things. With one more reluctant look at Face, Murdock left, going to his own room.

Hannibal settled himself more comfortably on the bed. Was Face just having a nightmare, stressed from today, or did he really feel this other guy taking him over? And why now? Hannibal sighed. This could be a long night.


*****

Hey, bud...

His eyes snapped open. "Hannibal..."

"I'm here, Face."

He can't stop me, bud. Nobody can.

"He's here, Hannibal. Now."

"Push him back, Face. You can do it."

Yeah, push me, bud. I'll just come back, stronger.

"I'm trying..."

Try harder. Doesn't matter, y'know. I'll just wait.

"Is he still here, Face?"

"He's too strong, Hannibal. I can't..."

"We can. Okay? I'm here for you, kid." He grabbed Face's hand. "Take what you need, Face. Get rid of him."

How touching. Really. Just heartwarming.

"Get out." Face was pulling all the strength he could. Voice of steel.

For a moment, Hannibal thought Face was talking to him. Then he realized the battle had been joined.

"Can't do it, bud. You're mine."

"No. Leave. Now."

"We got things to do yet, bud. Lots of things. A whole world of things..."

"Not me. I'm done with that."

"Yeah, that's what you told Stockwell. 'I don't kill any more.' But you did anyway, didn't you?"

"That was different. You enjoy it."

"Well, if ya gotta do it, might as well enjoy it, huh, bud? Make the most of life - or death."

"I won't let you kill any more."

"You don't have much choice, bud. Do you?"

"You can't use me any more. I won't let you. You're dead."

"Naaah, I'm not dead. Far from it. Just hiding out for a bit. I can come back whenever I want to. Whenever I need to."

"You'll never need to."

"Oh yeah, I will. Like when Carly decides she's waited long enough for you. Forgot about her, didn't you, chump? She still wants you, bud. You and the rest of your team. She's gonna hang your asses out to dry."

Hannibal decided it was time to move in. He'd listened to that cold, smirking voice long enough. He was about to take part in the most bizarre conversation of his life.

"We don't need your help with Carla."

"Ahhh - another country heard from."

"Face doesn't want you or need you, 'bud', and if he doesn't want you, you can't stay."

"Oh he needs me all right. He just doesn't know it yet. He thinks he does that little confessional thing with the padre and everything's going to be hunky-dory. He doesn't know it ain't that simple. Do you, bud?"

"What do you mean?" Face sounded startled, and Hannibal was beginning to feel like he needed a score card to keep track of who was talking.

"Who the hell do you think they're gonna let stay with the team, huh? Go on the missions? The guy who can plug the target, or the guy who can't even stand to have fuckin' gun in his lap?"

"Face is on this team for as long as he likes. We'd never take you on any missions."

"To which I say a polite BULL, Colonel. You've been taking me on missions ever since you met this poor son of a bitch. You just didn't know it."

"Hannibal?" Murdock was at the door, totally confused.

"Ahhh, the pilot. Getting crowded around here, huh, Colonel? Okay, there's nothing here for me right now anyway. I'll let you 'win' this time, okay? But I'll drop in from time to time, just to say hello."

Silence.

"Face? You okay?" Hannibal wasn't sure who he was talking to now.

"Yeah." Face's voice didn't sound all that sure.

"He's gone, kid. We got rid of him."

"He'll come back, Hannibal. He'll always come back."

"Not always, Face. We'll find a way to get rid of him for good. Just let me think about it, okay?"

"Ok." Face's voice was fading, stress exhausting him.

"Go to sleep, Face. He won't be back tonight."

"Ok."

Hannibal looked up at Murdock. "We'll talk in the morning."

Murdock nodded, and once again went back to his own room. Hannibal lay back, thinking. Murdock shows up, the guy suddenly recedes. Interesting.

Hannibal heard Face mumbling his name. He reached over, pulled the lieutenant to him, felt him grab hold. Sometimes, that's all anyone really needed. Just someone to hang on to. This time he didn't let go.