"Gonna miss you, kid."

He'd watched for only a moment as his lieutenant, his friend, walked away. There had been that second's hesitation, that quick look, as if Face wanted his colonel to talk him out of it. But Hannibal had kept quiet.


Hannibal sighed. It was all over now. The bad guy put away along with his cronies, and Face back with the team. Face, whether he would ever admit it or not, was part of the team, would be lost without it.

Hannibal understood how Face felt. But he also understood that there was no leaving. Not for Face, not for BA. Not even Murdock, supposedly free as a bird.

And least of all, for Hannibal.

It wouldn't end with their pardons. That's what the others didn't understand. Or maybe Face did. Maybe that was why he'd made his move now, instead of waiting impatiently for that piece of paper. Maybe, under the pressures of Stockwell's missions, he had finally seen what Hannibal had, and he'd desperately made the attempt to get free. And Hannibal had kept his fingers crossed, hoping he would succeed...

But Hannibal had known that none of them would ever be free. The bond that had formed out of necessity had become necessity itself. They couldn't function on their own, any of them, not with BA's temper, Face's larceny, Murdock's fantasies.

Hannibal had learned to use whatever men he had to keep himself in line. But he was responsible for keeping this team with him all these years, making them the way they were. Responsible for that dependence on each other. And he took that responsibility very seriously.

He sighed.

He could never be free of them.