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End of the Beginning

I watched as the building got closer and closer, silently wishing for BA to hurry. We almost made it.

HM was still rambling on to John in the back of the van and John was doing his best to follow along. That in itself was probably enough to tip HM off to something fishy, if he had taken the time to notice that is.

It was the gate that did it. A whitewashed cement gate that seemed to stretch out of sight. If you look at it long enough and let your mind drift a little, you start to wonder why it's there. Is it to protect the people on the outside from what, who, lays within? I glance behind me at HM. Maybe it's to protect them from us. To protect them from the rest of the world, from reality...

John looks at me and it's at that moment that HM's voice drifts to a halt. He's staring out the window. He's staring at the gate. He knows. He looks at John, a question in his eyes, but he knows.

I can't bear to see the hurt and confusion in his eyes and so I turn away. I stare straight ahead as we silently pass through the gate. Why did I ever agree to this? I'm here for moral support. John thought it would be easier if I were here. He said that HM looked on me like a grandmother...Doctor Richtor agreed.

I'm trying to stay focused. I know that I need to be ready. I don't know if I can do this but I'm sure as hell going to try. BA brings the van to a stop. He doesn't make a move to get out and I'm still staring face forward as I hear John slide the back door open.

"Hannibal..."

I close my eyes and try to stop sudden tears from falling. The waver in his voice as he calls to John is too much to bear. Why did I agree to this? Why did I think I could do this? Oh, Lord...

"But...Colonel...Please!"

I haven't moved. I can hear John trying to calm him. I should do something.

"Colonel?! Please! Why...?...Colonel please..."

I can't. I want to help, but I can't. I...

"BA? BA! Come on, Big Guy, I swear I'll be better...I'll even let you watch what you want next time...I'll..BA, you can even have my Captain America ring...See?...I'll...I'll..."

I turn and see BA shaking his head. When did he get out? He has a hand on HM's shoulder and is nodding to one of the orderies trying to hold HM. He's looking at John now and I follow his gaze. John looks like his heart is being ripped out.

"BA! Colonel, please!"

HM is struggling against the orderlies. I look away as the doctor motions another man holding a white garment forward.

"Face!"

My head snaps back to the scene outside my window. I can hear everything so clearly, the back door is still open. It doesn't feel real. This can't be real. They have HM in a straightjacket now. He's still struggling...

"Face! Where's Face?! Please! Face!"

I can't stop the tears now. I don't even try. John's reaching for HM now but the doctor steps in front of him, "Templeton is gone, HM."

BA has a hand on John's shoulder. That's probably for the best. It's probably safer if John can't jump at the doctor.

HM is staring at the doctor. He's shaking his head and it's heartbreaking to see him shake his head. He's laughing as he tells them that's crazy. Crazy...They won't let him believe anymore. They won't play along now. "Templeton is dead."

"No! You son of bitch! Take that Back! You take that BACK!"

They're struggling even more with him now and BA is stuggling with John. I should get out. I should help but I can't. I can't, so I watch.

"Take it back! Colonel?!" HM is staring at John now. He's stopped struggling and he's just staring now. "Tell them they're wrong! Tell them!"

John pushes against BA one more time before he gives up and meets HM's stare. He looks so defeated. "I can't."

"What? Wha...But...Hannibal?" His voice wavers and he doesn't try to keep it from cracking.

John gives BA a quick look and shrugs off the strong arms holding him back. Three steps and John is holding HM's shoulders and staring into his eyes. "He's gone, Murdock. Face is dead."

The greatest tragedy there is, is to outlive your child. I watched John loose Templeton. I watched him die a little bit more everyday knowing there was nothing I could do to ease his pain. I watched him then as I watch him now. He's loosing another son and I wish there was some way to comfort him. To tell him everything will be all right.

The orderlies are leading a submissive HM into the building now. The doctor looks at John but says nothing as he too turns and follows them into the building. John is standing in the drive. He's just standing. BA gently guides him back to the van. No expression lingers on his face, no emotion lights his eyes. He looks defeated.

The slamming of the door makes me jump and I turn to see BA. He's got worry in his eyes. Worry for me. Worry for John. John...I turn to see him sitting behind me. He tries to smile, to show me that he's ok. I know that's not true and I reach a hand back to pat his knee. He grasps my hand and squeezes.

I turn back to BA. He's looking at his hand. I shake my head in question and he looks at me before slowly opening his fist. Resting in the palm of his hand is the plastic Captain America ring. I reach my other hand over to close his hand around the ring and give him a silent nod of understanding. He nods back and I can see a little of the worry ease in his face. He starts the van and it jolts into gear. I couldn't do what I was here to do. Maybe that's not what I really needed to be here for. I think they need me more than HM does right now. Maybe I can still help to ease this hurt. I squeeze John's hand and watch as the white gate passes outside my window.

***Fini***