Epilogue

The next morning...

Tad's diner was quiet at 6 a.m. Hannibal sat in a corner booth, his nose in the Metro section of the L.A. Times. He'd picked this place because it was a hole in the wall in an unpopular part of town... a place Decker would never think to look.

A burst of cold air told him that someone had come in. The jangling of what could only be massive amounts of jewelry told him that B.A. had just arrived. He heard the Sergeant slide into the booth across from him moments later. A plump waitress stalked over to the table with her order pad.

"You boys ready to order?"

"I'll have a coffee, ma'am," B.A. said. She wrote it down and went quickly to retrieve the coffee. She filled up B.A.'s cup and re-filled Hannibal's.

"Anything for breakfast?"

"We're waiting for two more," Hannibal said from behind his newspaper.

"Okay, I'll come back later."

The waitress stalked off, and the two friends sat quietly, drinking coffee.

Meanwhile...

Murdock woke to tapping on his window. His digital clock read 6:45 a.m. A glance at the window showed him it was Face who was knocking.

Murdock quickly changed and opened the window for his friend. He climbed out and they dropped to the ground. Bed check wasn't for another hour, so they had plenty of time before they realized Murdock was missing.

The 'Vette sped down the highway. No music came from the radio, and neither man felt much like speaking. Face usually listened to a morning talk show, but his heart just wasn't in it this particular morning. He glanced over at Murdock, and noticed a distressed look on his friend's face.

"Is everything all right, Murdock?"

"I had the dream again."

"The one where you got-"

"Yeah, that one."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm not sure. When I woke up last night, Dr. Richter was there to calm me down. What if I wake up some night and hurt someone?"

Face didn't respond right away. He took the next exit off the highway and pulled over.

"Mine is the mallet torture."

"The one that put you in a Vietnamese hospital for a month?"

Face nodded.

"Why does this have to happen?" Murdock asked, sounding almost childlike. His eyes pleaded for a direct answer, but he knew Face could not give him one.

"I don't know, buddy. I just hope one day I can go to sleep, and I won't have that dream anymore."

"Me too."

Face looked at his watch.

"We'd better get back on the road. Hannibal won't like it if we show up late."

"Right, Muchacho."

Face pulled onto the road and headed toward Tad's diner, six blocks down.

The door jangled again, and B.A. looked up from his coffee. Unfortunately, it wasn't Face and Murdock.

"Where are those two at?" he said irritably.

"They should be here soon."

"Man, put down that paper when you talkin' to me. You had your face in it all morning."

Hannibal complied and closed the newspaper. His eyes looked sleep-deprived, and he looked miserable.

"You all right, Hannibal?"

The older man didn't say anything.

"Nightmare again?"

Hannibal nodded.

"The land mine... the kid shoving me off and jumping on it. When the VC found me, I had his blood all over my uniform."

"No wonder you couldn't sleep."

"You don't look so well rested yourself, Sergeant," Hannibal countered.

"I had one too. When I got shot in the leg and thought I was gonna die of infection."

"Murdock saved you, if I remember what you told me."

"Yeah, crazy fool dug out the bullet with a piece of bamboo. Hurt like hell."

The door jangled, and both men looked over. Face and Murdock were walking toward the table.

"Good to see you two," Hannibal said, tapping his wristwatch.

Face slid into the booth beside Hannibal.

"He had a nightmare again."

Hannibal nodded his understanding.

"Let's order breakfast, shall we?"

Hannibal beckoned the waitress over and she quickly took their orders. They all sat around the table, drinking coffee and talking about their next mission. As the morning wore on, smiles started to return to weary faces.

"Remind me that we'll always have each other... when everything else is

END