Murdock set the heavy cardboard box atop an equally heavy cardboard box and panted in the stifling heat of the uhaul before turning around to glare at Ellen. "Please tell me that's the last one!"
"Yep," Ellen replied nonchalantly as she read though the file she'd found on Face's mom. "I know Face said, he didn't want this file but, I can't just leave it here, Murdock."
"I wouldn't either," Murdock said pulling the back of the uhaul down. "Are we ready to go? If we get on the road now, we should be back in Langley by the time Facey gets out of the hospital."
"Yeah," Ellen said turning around to look at the massive house she had shared with Edward. "I'm ready!" She announced. No love was lost by vacating the house after Face's trial. Murdock offered to borrow a truck and rent a uhaul to retrieve her belongings before the house was put up for sale.
"Good," Murdock said going to the passenger door of the pickup. "Your chariot awaits milady," he said opening the door and helping the five months pregnant woman into it.
Climbing behind the wheel, Murdock started the truck and pulled out of the driveway as Ellen sighed. "I'm hungry and I got to pee," she said as Murdock rolled his eyes.
"Again, you just went!"
"I can't help it," Ellen said with a pout as Murdock smiled.
"I'll stop at a gas station, good enough?"
"Yes," Ellen said sliding over into the middle of the bench seat. Wrapping an arm around Murdock's shoulders, she grinned. "Are you ever going to tell me your real name, Murdock."
"Nope," he said with a laugh. "Does it really matter?"
"Are we going to get married?" Ellen asked as Murdock shrugged.
"What's that got to do with it?" he asked as Ellen smiled.
"Because, if we get married," Ellen said pensively. "I'd like to know the real name of my husband."
"Well," Murdock said with a smile. "The day I ask for your hand is the day I'll tell you my real name, deal?"
"Deal!" Ellen said giggling.
Standing in front of the mirror, Face combed his hair before picking up his favorite pair of jeans. Hannibal had brought them to him for the trip home to Langley from the University where he'd been the last four weeks. He'd been told by Maggie and Leo that it would take time to get his stamina back after such a harrowing ordeal but even then, he wasn't prepared for the pain or weakness he'd endured just to get back onto his feet.
"You okay in there, kid," Hannibal asked from the other side of the door.
"Yeah," Face said sliding into the jeans. "I'm great," he said with a smirk as he realized the jeans were now about two sizes to big. He knew, he'd lost weight but he didn't realize how much until that moment.
Hannibal laughed when Face came out of the bathroom holding up his pants. "I got your belt," he said holding it up.
"You might need to put another hole in it," Face said as he stretched the waist.
Hannibal smirked as he pulled out a pocket knife. For the sake of decency, Face took a seat on the edge of his bed while he waited for Hannibal to finish. "That aught to do it," Hannibal said handing the belt back to the Lieutenant.
"As long as it keeps my pants up," Face said with a grin as Maggie walked in.
"Okay," she said waving his release papers around. "You're a free man."
"Finally," Face said jumping to his feet which he immediately regretted when the room started to spin.
"Take it easy, Face!" Maggie exclaimed as she took his arm. He swayed momentarily in front of her but quickly regained his balance. "You can't get up that fast!"
"Apparently," Face said closing his eyes a moment to regain his bearings.
"I'll get a wheelchair," Hannibal said as Face gave him a wounded look. "It's safer that way."
"Thanks, John," Maggie said as Face looked peeved. "Just humor us, okay?"
"I just want to go home to my own bed," he said with a smirk.
"I know and I promise, once we get you home, I'll leave you alone," Maggie said with a wink.
"Right," Face replied in disbelief as Hannibal returned with a wheelchair.
Murdock pulled into a gas station to fill up before they got on the interstate. While Ellen went in to use the facilities and buy snacks for the trip back to Langley, he used the pay phone to check in.
"That was Murdock," Hannibal said hanging up the phone in Stockwell's car. "They're on the way back."
"I can't believe you let my pregnant sister and Murdock go all the way down to Florida...alone," Face said angrily.
"Face," Hannibal said rolling a cigar between his fingers. "I'm hurt that you would think, I would do that!"
"Of course, he didn't," Maggie said reassuringly before looking at Hannibal. "One of Stockwell's men are trailing them."
"And, Murdock's armed," Hannibal said with a wink. "I didn't forget, Thompson's still out there."
"At least the Warden will get what's coming to him," Maggie said bringing up the incident at the prison for the first time.
"Home," Face said sullenly, ignoring the Doctor's comment for the moment as the car pulled though the gate to Stockwell's house.
BA and Frankie waited outside the front door while Hannibal and Maggie helped Face inside the house. "I'm fine," he said waving away their efforts of help. "I'm not totally helpless!"
"Calm down, Face," Hannibal said once they got inside the house. "We're just being cautious."
"Thanks," Face said plopping down onto the nearest couch. "I appreciate it, really I do. I'm just being grouchy."
"No, really," Frankie mumbled while rolling his eyes. "That's so unlike you."
Face smirked. "It is good to be home," he said with a grin.
Murdock focused on the traffic around him as Ellen rambled on next to him. He'd noticed that a light blue four door sedan kept pace with his truck two lanes to his left for approximately the last thirty miles. Meanwhile, two cars behind him, was a jet black car with heavily tinted windows that he somehow knew belonged to Stockwell. Hannibal always though of everything, he thought. The blue car didn't really worry him until it moved from one lane to another.
"What do you think, Murdock?" Ellen asked as the pilot watched the blue car merge into their lane just in front of them.
"About?" Murdock asked absently as the car ahead started to slow down.
"About the baby names, silly," Ellen said smiling. "I said, if the baby is a boy, I'm thinking about naming him, Templeton after Face."
Murdock suddenly slammed on the brakes as the blue car came to a complete stop on the interstate just in front of them. Ellen used her hands to brace herself from hitting the dash board as she screamed out in alarm. But, instead of stopping, Murdock had just enough room to pass the car up. Looking back in the mirror at Ellen's side, he saw the black car pulling over as two men got out of the blue one. "You alright?" He asked looking at Ellen concerned.
"Yeah, I'm okay," she said turning in her seat to look behind them. "What was that about?"
"I don't know," Murdock said with a grin. "Some people just don't know how to drive!"
Hannibal looked up from his newspaper when he seen Maggie return to the living room.
"He's asleep," she said worriedly.
"So, what can we expect?" Hannibal asked as BA and Frankie exchanged glances.
"We're not sure yet but Doctor Aston's worried about PTSD," Maggie replied uneasily.
"Faceman done went though war, Hannibal," BA said lowly. "You really think something like this is gonna bring him down like that!"
"We don't know what's going though his head, BA," Hannibal said more calmly than he felt. "We have to remember, he literally died! And, that's going to be hard for anyone to get over."
"So, what should we be looking out for, Doc?" Frankie said looking at Maggie.
"Well, some of the symptoms are easy to identify and he may exhibit them even without a clinical diagnosis of the disorder," Maggie said thoughtfully. "Like, sleeplessness, irritability, hostility, anxiousness. The more severe symptoms are what we should be concerned about, self destructive behavior and...suicidal thoughts."
"Whoa," Frankie said looking at Maggie. "That's some heavy stuff you're talking about."
"Yeah," BA said skeptically. "How's it treated?"
"Psychotherapy is really the only form of treatment," Maggie replied quietly.
"Oh, man," Frankie said shaking his head. "He ain't gonna end up like Murdock, is he?"
"Face ain't crazy, fool," BA said getting to his feet defensively. "Don't be comparing him to that crazy man!"
"Calm down, BA," Hannibal said waving his hand. "Face might hear you!" BA sat back down with a sigh as Hannibal continued. "We know, Face ain't crazy and he ain't going to be. Maggie and Leo are only concerned about the effects the prison time and the leather injection may have on him."
"I only want you guys to keep an eye on him," Maggie said evenly. "If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please don't hesitate to tell me."
"Okay," Frankie said as BA nodded.
"The best thing you can do for him is to just act normally around him," Maggie said. "Once things return to normal, he may just fine."