It is that old treacherous feeling that real life is happening somewhere else, and I'm left out. - Helen Garner

"I think he might do it again."

"No, he won't. We'll have our pardons soon. He'll stay."

"You sure about that? Not the first time - "

"He'll stay, BA."

"He doesn't like it here. He doesn't like Stockwell, he doesn't like being watched all the time, and he's getting more and more convinced those pardons aren't gonna happen."

"None of us are terribly fond of the circumstances, BA." He ignored the scowl.

"He's not built like we are, Hannibal. Never has been, even in Nam. Man's as bad as Murdock when it comes right down to it. He's always had his own idea how things should be, and thinks he can just make 'em be that way. But damn, he came close enough to at least be happy for a while. Being here - it's like running full speed into a brick wall."

"Oh, I don't think it's that bad."

"Hannibal, you're not paying attention. Face is... Look, Stockwell supplies the team instead of him, Frankie drives him nuts, and Murdock's too busy working to do anything with him like they used to. And when Murdock is with us, you hand over what Face would be doing. Hell, Face doesn't even bother scamming anything for himself now!"

"I thought you didn't like his scamming all the time."

"Hannibal, you ain't that dumb. I don't like that he did it all the time, but it's just what he's always done. And he always made sure the team had what we needed. But what's he supposed to do now? He's lost, man."

"He's a grown man, BA. He doesn't need anybody holding his hand."

"He needs his colonel. You don't even talk over the missions with him most of the time, just worry 'bout following Stockwell's orders."

"Now wait a minute - "

"Why do you think he really stays? 'Cause he don't want to let you down. Look how he handled Stockwell in Hong Kong!" BA tossed the cue stick on the table, exasperated. "Open your eyes, Colonel. You got a man in trouble, and you gotta do something about it! Face's got nothing left. Nothing 'cept you."

BA stalked out, leaving Hannibal stunned.

BA's outburst hadn't bothered him - the reason for it did. A lot. He prided himself on taking care his team. Even Frankie, now. But BA practically accused him of ignoring Face.

Shit. He'd noticed the changes. Just hadn't handled it right. Hadn't bothered to talk to him, just moved him to 'harmless' positions. What mattered was getting another notch on the pardon pole.

That was wrong. Face was still his XO. Still the one who could find the holes in his plans. Still the one whose opinion he valued.

Glancing at the clock, he shook his head. Stockwell would be here soon for the briefing, and he didn't want to rush his talk with Face. But when they got back from wherever, he would pull Face aside, with no interruptions.

BA wouldn't have to remind him to be Face's colonel again.