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3

The hike to base camp took several hours. Progress was slowed by the treacherous conditions of the washed out trails. Face was a model soldier along the way. He never complained about his side or let it slow him down. That's how Hannibal knew the Kid was really hurting. When they stopped for a food break, Hannibal made Face take a dose of ibuprofen.

Along the way Murdock explained how they were able to find their "lost sheep". They had seen Face run back for her and then watched as the storm flow cut the Team off from each other. Clearly Face would lead them up the mountain to evade the flood. Murdock, B.A., and Hannibal had been forced to travel down. On the way down the trio encountered an old timer who'd been "huntin' hikikin' and hunkering in these woods" for decades. The old timer told them about his personal cabin up near the high country. When Hannibal told him about Face being forced up the mountain, the hunter gave them directions to the cabin. Hannibal decided they'd search there first. The rest was just a matter of waiting out the storm and the darkness.

They reached the newly established base camp just as evening set in. Everyone dropped their packs near a tent. B.A. got busy cooking supper. There was a pond near camp and she went down to it to rinse off some the grime of the last twenty-four hours. Hannibal insisted on checking Face's wound. Fortunately it showed only minimal bleeding. The band aid "stitches" seemed to be holding. Hannibal wandered over to B.A. to help the Big Guy with the food prep. Face sat down on a fallen tree near the campfire Murdock was building. Once the Captain had the flame established he joined Face on the woody sofa.

"So how ya feeling, Muchacho?"

"I'm sore, but I'll be fine, Murdock. Don't worry."

"You seemed to have slept well," prompted the Captain.

"Murdock," Face replied in a warning tone.

"Easy, all I meant was that you were sound asleep. You didn't hear me open the door, come in, or sit near you. I was there for like five minutes watching you. I finally had to nudge you."

"Really?" Face sounded surprised and perplexed.

" I can't even recall the last time I saw you sleep like that. You looked so comfortable. I hated to wake you but I figured you rather Hannibal didn't see ya all snuggled up like that."

Face became really quiet and seemed to be thinking deeply. Murdock silently waited for his friend to sort out his thoughts.

"Murdock. Promise not to laugh?"

"Of course, Facial One"

"I just realized that last night was the first time I've ever actually slept with a girl. Ya know actually slept -all night."

When Murdock remained silent Face continued, "I either make up some excuse to leave or spend the night more awake than sleeping. Maybe I was truly exhausted."

Murdock shook his head and chuckled kindly,

"Face, I don't think exhaustion had anything to do with it."

When Face gave him a confused look, Murdock continued,

"I think you were able to sleep like that because, for once, you were near a girl you trust - nearly completely. Tell me one other female that knows you as well as she does?"

"I can't, Murdock". Then a Face admitted,"You know, She did a damn good job of taking care of me, the first aid, the food, insisting we share the quilt."

"Face, that's not the first time she's done something like that. Remember when we had to crash in the van? Your leg was broken, my shoulder dislocated."

"Of course, that was only three months ago."

"Well, Hannibal had you and me pretty dosed up on pain meds. Or at least he thought so, I didn't swallow mine. Anyway, in the middle of the night you started with a nasty nightmare. Shewent right to you. Got there before me, she thought I was unconscious. She's the one who talked you through it and held you until you were peaceful again."

"She did!?" Then Face revealed, "She saw the scars on my back. She found the worst one while she was treating my cut. I actually showed her the rest and she didn't get revolted or all pity party on me. She got angry at the VC! That so wasn't what I was prepared for.

"Faceman, she knows you. The good, the bad, the hard, and the gentle. And she chooses to be here."

"She is a good friend."

"Ah Face, friendship is just the foundation, Buddy."

Face gazed up at his best friend, confusion evident in his eyes. Before he could seek clarification, they were interrupted by her return from the pond.

"Hi Guys," she greeted them.

Murdock jumped off the log and patted Face's shoulder as he said,

"Think about that would you? Really think." Then he scooted off under the guise of checking on supper.

"I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation." she said.

"No, don't worry. Murdock was trying to teach or tell me something. But I haven't quite figured out what yet"

"Oh" she replied with a shy smile.

Just then B.A. summoned them to dinner so they walked over together.

"Thanks again for taking care of me last night" he whispered

"Any time any place." she replied unguardedly.

He turned to her then admitted, "I'm beginning to believe that."

Over his shoulder, she saw Murdock smile and give her a conspiratorial wink.