Hannibal swung around and stared at Murdock. They were standing in the library, the only place they could have any real privacy.
"He asked you to get him a gun and you didn't think it was the right time to tell me about it!"
Murdock squirmed under Hannibal's baleful stare. "Well, Colonel, you were kinda keyed up at the time - I didn't want you goin off half-cocked with him...and it's not like I gave him one. I wanted him to talk to you first, but he didn't want to do that."
"I don't know, Hannibal. When I suggested it, he just said to forget it and walked out."
"You didn't happen to check the lockers in the basement, did you?"
Murdock shook his head. "Face doesn't know they're down there."
"Well, let's find out, shall we?" Hannibal's steely eyes had not softened one bit toward Murdock. It was going to be a very long day for the pilot.
Face had walked and walked, the gun heavy and cold against his backbone. Just having it there made him feel different. Stronger? No. Colder. Inside. He almost felt like a different person. Not 'him'. Not Face, either. Something in between. He didn't know if he liked it or not. Like he couldn't decide which one he wanted to be, which one he should be. Which one was right. The only thing he did know was this new feeling was not one he'd felt before. Despite what 'he' had said, it wasn't like before. Maybe because he wasn't the same person as before, deep down. Now there was an ugliness inside that hadn't been there before. The ugliness wasn't 'him'. It was inside Face. It was Face.
He reached the end of the meadow. Over the fence. Kept walking. He wanted to be far from the house. As far as he could be. He didn't want them to know, he didn't want them to be part of this. Because he didn't know what was going to happen. Anything could happen. Or nothing. It was a complete unknown to him. Once he took that gun out, once he put the cartridge in, once his finger was on the trigger, he had no idea what he would do.
He finally stopped. This was good. As 'he' had done in another place, Face searched around for items to use as targets, placing them carefully in front a steep incline. He stepped back, maybe fifty feet. It was time. He reached back, pulled out the gun, slipped in the cartridge. Held it in his left hand, getting the feel of it. Took a deep breath.
It's okay, man. These are just sticks and old cans. You can shoot these all you want and it ain't gonna hurt anybody.
Face blinked. Drew the gun up. Put his finger on the trigger.
"Well, that's it, then."
Hannibal had opened Face's locker first. It was obvious it had been searched. Just as obvious that one of the pistols was missing.
Without another word, Hannibal and Murdock hurried up the stairs and out the door. A quick glance out into the meadow told them Face had gone further than he usually did. They started walking, then trotting. The further they went with no sign of Face, the faster they moved.
His hand was shaking. His body was shaking. He dropped his hand to his side, gun dangling loosely from his fingers. That was that. He'd never be on the team again.
Hey, man. C'mon. You're not gonna hurt anyone. You gotta try. They need you, man. Not stuck away somewhere doin their bookwork. They need you with them. Try.
I'll help you, okay? Let me help you.
Face looked up at the targets. Just sticks. A couple of cans. Old, rusty cans no one would ever want or need. Sticks the trees had just thrown away. No use to any one. Nothing in that whole place was worth a damn. He could shoot anything there and no one would care.
He looked at the gun in his hand. His left hand. He thought about the other one. Looked at it. Hanging there, worthless. What good was a hand that was withered and bent like that? It was just there. Worthless. A part of the body that was still there only because what else would you do with it?
He gripped the gun a little tighter. Ran his finger around the trigger. Brought the gun up once again.
Hannibal had started calling him after they had gotten halfway through the meadow. Murdock joined in. This was not good. Hannibal wasn't sure why Face really wanted a gun. After that thing at Molly's, he didn't know what was going through Face's head. He'd been quiet and subdued ever since, and Hannibal - again kicking himself - just hadn't had time to sit down and talk with him. If anything happened to his lieutenant, he'd never forgive himself. Never.
There had been a trail of sorts. The grass had died down as winter moved in, but there were patches of tall weed here and there. And scattered among the patches were places where something had gone through, bending it down. Hell, they could be following a fucking deer for all he knew. They came to a fence. Had Face gone over it, or turned? Hannibal figured he'd gone over. He sensed that Face wanted to be far from the house, far from them. He climbed over and started running. Calling Face. Scanning the area as he ran.
He closed his eyes. He didn't need to see. All that mattered was whether or not he could pull the trigger. Did he have it in him?
They heard the shot. One single shot. Ahead of them. Some distance yet. Both men broke into a dead run. Neither had air enough to shout.
They reached a small rise. Raced over it. Stopped, breathing hard. Looked around. Where had the shot come from? Which way?
"There!" Murdock pointed to the left. A figure on the ground. God, no....
The shot echoed around him. Reverberated through his head. Blood. Oh God, it was a mistake. He shouldn't have. Shouldn't have. Blood, all over. All over him. All over the ground. Surrounding him, engulfing him...
Stay with me, man! Stay here! Help me! I can't do it alone, Face! Stay with me! Think of the team! Stay with me!
I can't...I can't...
Hannibal pulled Face to him. Calling him. Looking into those deep blue eyes, staring off into space. Fear filling them. No, no, no...
He heard the voices, talking and talking. Pulling him out. Demanding he come out. The visions were receding, flowing away. Pulling something of him with them. Leaving a shell. Only a shell.
He clawed his way out, only a moment, that voice. Looked up at him. Hannibal. "I'm sorry...sorry..." His voice only a whisper. "I tried, Hannibal. I couldn't...sorry..."
"Nothing to be sorry for, Face. You don't have to do that. We still need you. Understand? We need you. The other doesn't matter. Not a damn bit."
Fell back into the visions, drowning in them...
They pulled him up, carrying him between them. Leaving the gun on the ground, forgotten.