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Frankie Santana sat quietly in an easy chair studying the man across from him

Slow Learner

By:  Jullian Gray & Jes Parker 

 

Rated R

Warning: Slash H/F language, violence *for those who like Frankie, you won't like this.*

Summary: Frankie gets on Face's last nerve / or a good old fashion Frankie bashing.

Takes place the day after Dense.

 

Thanks to Shee for all treading through our errors, and putting us on the right track! 

 

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They were huddled together in the corner of a cave for warmth.  Snowdrifts heaped into the mouth of the cave, and the wind howled outside, giving the impression of some animal howling in the distance.  A small fire blazed in the center of the cave, mere feet from where they were settled, gathered around their youngest member, who lay trembling in Hannibal's arms.  His blonde head propped against Hannibal's chest, his eyes closed, sunken, and dark.  Hannibal glanced down the length of his lover, to Murdock, who leaned over Face, pressing hard against their Lieutenant's side, trying without much luck to staunch the blood that steadily leaked forth, staining the once pristine white shirt, blood red.  BA alternatively rubbed the pilot's leg, then the Lieutenant's, offering both of them what comfort that he could.  His other hand held a stick with which he used to stroke the fire.

Unable to offer his lover anymore comfort or warmth then he was at the moment, he stroked Face's hair, looking at him with eyes full of love and worry, and softly he began to sing.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
you make me happy when skies are gray..."

Softly Murdock and BA's voice joined him,

"You'll never know dear, how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away."

His mind whispered an answer to this prayer.

 

Hannibal looked over to the cause of this whole situation one Frankie Santana; the little bastard didn't even have the decency to look bothered by what he had done. He just sat there pouting.


Hannibal turned his attention back to Face, memories of how they came to be in this situation in the first place plagued his mind, while at the same time he searched for a way out.

 

Two weeks earlier

 

Frankie Santana sat quietly in an easy chair studying the man across from him on the sofa.  He was blonde, tall, lean, and normally tan, with some of the most intense blue-green eyes he had ever seen.  The man was handsome for someone in his late thirties, or was Face in his early forties; hell he wasn't sure just how old he was.

 

The subject of his interest was currently reading the finical section of the LA times.  His total attention focused on the new business report for the LA area, seeming oblivious to everything around him.

 

As Frankie continued to look Face over, he had to admit that he was a good looking man, but he just couldn't see why Johnnie would want him as a sexual partner.  After all, no matter how good-looking Face was, he was still, well a man, and Johnnie was a real man's man.

 

He was a colonel in the US army for Christ sake, how could he be in love with another man?

 

 "I'm sure there is a photo of me around here somewhere you can borrow, Santana."

 

Frankie quickly looked up at Face, who was now staring at him, his annoyance clearly written on his face.

 

"Sorry Face, I was just thinking."

 

"Really, that must be original for you." Face glared at him as he flicked his paper causing it to snap open again, now covering his up his face.

 

Frankie tried to ignore Face's sarcasm; he knew that the blonde haired man still wasn't feeling well, and the fact that Johnnie still wouldn't let him do much of anything didn't help.

 

"What do you want Frankie?" Face asked not bothering to put the paper down.

 

"Nothing Face."

 

"You suck at lying; what do you want?"

 

"Well, I was just wondering … what… why…how…"

 

Face signed as he put his paper down so he was looking directly at the other man.

 

"Spit it out Santana."

 

BA had told him about the conversation that he had with Frankie last night, so he knew why he was getting stared at, but it still didn't help.  He really wasn't feeling well today and the younger man was starting to really get on his nerves.

 

"When did you know …I mean how did…"

 

"Just ask the damn question already!" Face snapped.

 

"How did you know you were gay?"  Frankie blurted out.

 

"How did I know…what are you talking about?" Face stared at him in disbelief.

 

"I was talking to BA the other night, he told me that you and Johnnie were …well you know an…umm… a," Frankie stammered.

 

"A what?" Face narrowed his eyes.

 

"A couple?" Frankie croaked out, he could feel the hostility coming off Face in waves and it was making him nervous.

 

Taking a deep breath, Face studied the other man for a few minutes before he answered.

 

"I'm not gay," his voice was flat with no emotion.

 

"But BA said that you and Johnnie were…"

 

"We are, and I'm not," Face snapped as he threw down his paper and got to his feet.

 

"Face, I didn't mean to…Face?" he called out to the blonde's back.

 

Frankie slumped back down into the armchair.  Now he was in trouble, he was sure that if he counted to ten Johnnie would be in the room before he got to five.

 

Sure enough, within seconds after hearing a door slam, he could here someone coming down the hallway.

 

"Hey Johnnie," he called out over his shoulder before the other person was fully in the room.

 

"Care to tell me why Face is pissed off?"  Hannibal asked, anger filling his voice.

 

"I asked him something I probably shouldn't have asked him."

 

"Obviously, now would you care to tell me what you asked so I can get him to calm down before his blood pressure goes through the roof, and he ends up back in the hospital?"

 

Knowing that there was no way out of his situation Frankie tried to minimize the damage that he had done.

 

"I didn't mean to upset him, I just asked," he stopped and sighed as he realized that there was no easy way of putting it. "I asked him how he knew he was gay."

 

"Jesus, Frankie do you ever think before you open your mouth?"

 

"BA said you two were a …"

 

"Yes Frankie, we are a couple, and Face is my partner, but he doesn't consider himself as being gay."

 

"How can he think something like?  You two are both men."  He blushed as he looked into the blue eyes staring back at him.

 

Sighing deeply, Hannibal sat down across from Santana.

 

"Frankie, what I'm going to tell you stays between me and you.  If I hear you repeat this to anyone, I will personally kick your ass.  Do I make myself clear?"

 

Well it wasn't a huge secret; BA and Murdock had known for years, but he still didn't need Frankie running his mouth where an Able might overhear him.

 

"Sure Johnnie." Frankie slid forward in his chair, eager to be taken into Hannibal's confidence.

 

"Face went through a lot of shit when he was young, and he had a really rough time in the POW camp." Taking a deep breath the silver haired man looked the younger man straight in the eyes. "I am Face's first and only consensual male relationship."

 

Before Frankie could say anything, Hannibal held up his hand, stopping him from speaking.

 

"I want you to think about what I just said, then I want you to store it away in the back of you mind.  Got it?"

 

"Yeah Johnnie, I got it."

 

"Good, now keep it to yourself.  Don't ever ask him anything about his personal life again.  If Face wants you to know something, he'll tell you."  With that, Hannibal got up to leave the room, leaving Frankie to contemplate what he had just been told.

 

"Johnnie?"

 

"Yeah." Hannibal stopped at the door.

 

"Is Face your… you know, first?"

 

"My first?" Hannibal raised an eyebrow.

 

He knew what Santana was asking, but he couldn't help but to stare at the younger man until he squirmed.

 

"Your first male relationship." Frankie blushed through his tan.

 

"No, he isn't my first, but he will be my last." Hannibal smiled. "I know it's hard for you to understand, so I'll keep it simple.  I love Face for who he is, the way he makes me feel.  The way he acts like a child sometimes, his general outlook on life.  The fact that he is a man doesn't matter to me."

 

Hannibal then leaned over the chair so he was only inches from Frankie's face.

 

"And if you have a problem with it, I suggest that you get over it," Hannibal's voice was low and dangerous.

 

"I don't have a problem," Frankie gulped.

 

"Good," with that Hannibal straightened and left the room.

 

'Damn, how do I get myself into these thing,' Frankie thought as he slumped back down in his chair.

 

#

 

Hannibal knocked softly on Face's bedroom door before opening it.  When he stepped into the room, he was not at all surprised to see Face sitting on the bed staring out the window.

 

"Mind if I join you?" he asked as he closed and locked the door behind him.

 

"Would it matter if I did?" Face asked not bothering to look the older man.

 

"Probably not." Hannibal smiled as he sat down on the bed next to Face. "Face I know what Frankie said…"

 

"Don't Hannibal, don't try and make it better.  I'm not hurting; I'm not confused; I just never thought of myself as gay."  Taking a deep breath, he turned to look at his lover.

 "I know you're a man, and I'm a man, but until I met you, I never had any interest in any man."

 

"Are you saying I corrupted you?" Hannibal laughed softly as he reached over to pull Face into his arms.

 

"I guess you did, because I have no interest in anyone else but you." Face sighed as Hannibal began to rub his back.

 

"That goes both ways kid," he replied as he laid a gentle kiss on the blonde's lips.

 

"It's just that he keeps staring at me like I'm some damn bug." Face tried to pull away, but was stopped when the older man tightened his grip.

 

"Hannibal…"

 

"I gave him some things to think about for a while, you can apologize later." Hannibal reached up to cup the younger man's face in his hands.

 

"I hadn't planned on apologizing to him," Face began to protest, just before the Colonel leaned over to capture his lips again.

 

Gently, Hannibal forced his tongue into his lover's soft mouth, exploring every part of it.

 

Carefully, he pushed Face back on the bed, while still managing to deepen the intense kiss, his hands moving down to unbutton the younger man's shirt, peeling it back to reveal a perfectly sculpted chest.

 

"Fine, don't apologize."  Hannibal smiled down at him as he ran his fingers over the younger man's chest, brushing the perk nipples as he made his way down toward his lover's waist.

 

"What are you doing?" Face gasped for breath as Hannibal leaned back to pull his own shirt off.  Hannibal's smile widened as he reached down to unbuckle Face's belt before unbuttoning the younger man's tan Dockers.

 

"Corrupting you."  He laughed softly as he reached into Face's pants squeezing him as he bent back down to capture the perfect lips yet again.

 

#

 

"You seem to be in a good mood this afternoon." Murdock smiled at Face as he made his way into the kitchen.

 

"Had a good nap." Face smiled back as he made his way over to the refrigerator.

 

"So that's what they're calling it these days." Murdock nudged Frankie who was sitting in the chair beside the pilot.  Face quickly turned away as the blush started began to creep up into his cheeks.

 

"You are just so funny."  Face frowned as he reached into the fridge and pulled out a Coke, before he could pop open the soda, Murdock jumped up and snatched it out of his hands.

 

"Hey!" Face yelled at the pilot as he tried to take the drink back.

 

"No cola.  Doctor's orders Facey, remember." The pilot laughed as he ran around the table, out of Face's reach.

 

"Give me my Coke back," Face growled as he headed toward his friend.

 

"No, doctor said no carbonated drinks, remember?"

 

"I'm not going to tell you again," Face stated as he advanced on his friend.  Though Murdock wasn't afraid when he saw the smile tug at the corners of Face's mouth.

 

"Not telling me what again?" Murdock laughed as he popped the top on the can.

 

"Don't you dare," Face warned as the pilot put the drink to his lips. "I'm warning you."

 

Face made a lunge for the pilot, but before he could get to the other man, Frankie jumped up to put himself between the two men.

 

"Now Face, you know you're not supposed to be drinking those, and Murdock is just trying to help.  You really shouldn't get yourself all worked up.  You're not in the best health right now.  You could make yourself sick, and you know how Johnnie can be when you don't feel well."  Frankie smiled at the older man.

 

Murdock watched as Face turned a crimson red, his jaw muscles clenching, and the anger filling the blue-green eyes.

 

"Face…" Murdock tried to calm his friend down

 

"Don't!" Face snapped as he turned on his heals and stormed out of the room.

 

"What did I do?"

 

"Opened your big mouth." Murdock sighed as he took off his cap and ran his hands through his hair.  Damn this was not going to be good.

 

Frankie sat down at the table and crossed his arms over his chest.  I was just trying to help you out."

 

"He knows what he can and can't do Frankie; he doesn't need your help to point it out to him.

 

"He was going to fight you for that drink."

 

Murdock shook his head as he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling.

 

"He wasn't going to fight me, we were just having some fun.  Look despite what you may think, Face does have a since of humor."

 

"You couldn't prove that by me," Frankie huffed as he slumped back in the chair.

 

Face slammed the back door as hard as he could as he left the mansion.  How dare that greasy little son of bitch tell him what he could or couldn't do?  Then have the nerve to tell him how Hannibal would feel about him getting upset.  He had been in a relationship with the Colonel for over fifteen years.  He sure as hell didn't need the little weasel to tell him how he would react.  He should go back in there and tell the slick headed bastard how he felt, and where he could put his advice.

 

He was just about ready to turn around and go back to the house, when he heard someone yelling for him.  Turning, he noticed BA over by the garage waving him over.

 

Taking a deep breath, he made himself calm down and made his way over to the big man.

 

"Hey Faceman, how you feeling?" BA asked as he noticed the tension in his friend's body.

 

Face looked up at his friend and saw true concern; he smiled at BA, deciding to let Frankie's comment go.

 

"Better."

 

"You wouldn't want to help me for a minute would ya?  I'm trying to bleed the brakes and I need someone to pump the brakes, while I bleed the line off."

 

"Not a problem.

 

A half- hour later, with Face's help, BA had the brakes bled and was putting the tires back on the van.

 

"You want to tell me what's eaten you?" BA asked as Face handed him one of the wheels lug nuts.

 

"Nothing," Face answered as he absently rubbed at the grease that was on his hands.

 

"Come on man, something is eating at you."

 

"Its just Frankie making a pest out of himself."

 

"You right, it noth'n." BA snickered and was relieved when he saw a genuine smile cross Face's lips. "What's he doing little bro?"

 

"I don't know, ever since you told him about me and Hannibal, he just…" Face threw up his hands. "I don't know, maybe it's just me being overly sensitive."

 

"I'm sorry Face; I should have asked you before I told him…"

 

"No, it's alright BA, hell maybe he'll leave Hannibal alone for more than a minute now.  Seems like every time we get two seconds to be alone, HE shows up.  Then it's Johnnie this, Johnnie that, Johnnie, Johnnie, Johnnie.  I'm so damn sick of hearing Johnnie that I've stopped calling Hannibal, John when we're alone because it's so damn close to Johnnie." Face sighed as he rubbed his hands over his face trying to get rid of some of the tension he felt building in his temple.

 

When he lowered his hands, BA started to snicker.

 

"What's so funny?"

 

"You got grease all over your face." BA began to snicker even harder.

 

"Oh that's just great." Face scowled as he looked down at his hands realizing that the grime he had been picking at earlier was now on his face.

 

When he looked up at BA, he noticed that the big man was trying his hardest to keep from outright laughing at him.

 

"It's kind of funny, isn't it?" Face began to chuckle.

 

"No it's not." BA finally burst out into laughter. "It's …it's… hal…" he tried to get the rest out, but couldn't go any further from laughing.

 

Face looked over at his friend in amazement; it was so rare to see the big man laugh.  He could snicker, chuckle, even giggle, but for BA to come right out and laugh, now that was truly something.

 

Before he knew it, Face began to chuckle harder.  Within a matter of minutes, the two were sitting on the floor of the garage, each man holding his side from laughing so hard.

 

"Oh man, I got to stop before I bust a stitch." Face gasped for air as he leaned back against the van.

 

"You better not, Johnnie will be really upset with you.  Then he might put you to bed with no supper." BA laughed. "Or turn you over his knee."

 

"Who says he hasn't." Face laughed even harder causing BA to start again.  Fifteen minutes later, the two calmed down enough to speak again.

 

"You feel'n better?" BA asked as he watched Face wipe the tears out of his eyes.

 

"A lot."

 

"Here man." BA pulled a shop rag out of his back pocket and tossed it to Face.

 

Face scrubbed his cheeks and temple with the rag for a minute before looking at his friend.

 

"Get it?"

 

"Give it to me for a second." BA took the shop rag then moved to kneel in front of Face, then proceeded to wipe the last smudge off of Face's cheek.

 

This is the site that greeted Frankie as he entered the garage.  He shook his head, first Face goes crying to Johnnie about how he had treated him, now he was literally crying to BA.  God the man was a little puss, every time he didn't get his way he would whine and cry.

 

"Hey, Johnnie says dinner's ready," Frankie announced as he looked down at Face.

 

"Good, I'm starving." BA stood up, and then reached down to help Face to his feet.

 

"God, I hurt."  Face grabbed his aching stomach as he leaned against the big man.

 

"You alright?"  BA looked at him with concern in his brown eyes.

 

"It's a good hurt."  Face smiled at BA as the big man put his arm over his shoulder, giving him some support.

 

"You need me to get Johnnie?" Frankie asked as the two men walked past. "God Face, you know you shouldn't be up and around; Johnnie keeps telling you that you're not healed and you're going to hurt yourself."  Frankie sighed heavily "Not to mention sitting on the dirty cold floor, and you've got yourself all dirty," he stated as he reached out and took a swipe at the dirt that was on the back of Face's slacks, brushing against Face's buttocks.

 

The next thing he knew, Frankie was being slammed up against the side of the van, with a very angry Templeton Peck only inches from his face.

 

"Don't you fucking touch me!" Face snapped.

 

"What is your problem man?  I haven't got any interest in you!"  Frankie yelled back at Face

 

"Faceman calm down." BA moved up behind the blonde.

 

"Don't you ever fucking touch me again!" Face warned as he stared at the other man

 

"Man, you are messed up!  I don't know why …"

 

"You touch me again, and I'll break your hand off and feed it to you!  Do I make myself clear!" Face pulled Santana far enough off the van's side so he could slam him into it again.

 

"Face, calm down man." BA reached over to place his hand on Face's shoulder, but the younger man shrugged it off as he shoved Frankie against the van for a third time.

 

Suddenly Frankie felt brave; he puffed up and looked Face square in the eyes.

 

"You know Face you are such a pussy; every time you don't get your way, you go and cry to one of the men around here.  If it wasn't for Johnnie and BA you'd probably get your butt kicked all the time." Frankie smiled as he watched the blonde's face turn red. "Don't know why you're worried about me touching you, you ain't my type, I like women, I'm not a fag like you.  It's a shame Johnnie can't go find a real wife, instead he has to fu…"

 

Frankie never got a chance to finish his sentence as Face balled up his fist and decked him square in the mouth.  The second blow caught him in the side of the head, knocking two of his teeth loose.

 

BA managed to grab a hold of Face's arm and pulled him away preventing him from hitting Santana again, but Face wasn't finished yet.  He swung his body around so he could slip out of the big man's grip and grabbed Frankie again, slamming him once more against the van door.

 

"Let me tell you something right here and right now, boy.   I may not be the biggest man in this unit, and yes, I sleep with Hannibal," Face slammed Frankie against the door again, "but I am more than enough man to kick your ass!"  Face snarled as he pulled his arm back to swing again.

 

"Face, that's enough!" Hannibal yelled as he and Murdock came into the garage.

 

Whether Face didn't hear him, or was ignoring him, Hannibal didn't know, but Face swung again and nailed Frankie right in the eye.

 

"Grab him!" Hannibal ordered as he ran to snag Face as the blonde drew back to punch the other man.

 

As Face pulled back to nail Frankie, he was grabbed by three pairs of hands.

 

"Get off of me!" Face yelled as he tried to shake loose the men who were holding him.

 

"Face, calm down!" Hannibal yelled as Face struggled to break free.  Realizing that he wasn't getting through, Hannibal went into command mode.

 

"Stand down, Lieutenant!" he yelled as he grabbed the blonde's face forcing the younger man to look at him.

 

Hannibal watched as the anger drained from Face's eyes, his body relaxing under his hands.

 

"Colonel?"

 

"You back with us, Lieutenant?"

 

"Yes sir." 

 

"You want to explain this?"  Hannibal motioned toward Frankie, who was leaning against the van in shock.

 

As soon as he heard the Colonel ask Face what was going on, Frankie's overactive mouth came back to life.

 

"That's it, ask Face, there wouldn't be any biasness there."

 

"And what is that supposed to mean?"  Murdock asked as he tightened his grip on Face when he felt his friend tense under his hand.

 

"You know exactly what it means; he sticks up for Face because Face is his…"

 

"Careful what you say next, Santana," Hannibal warned as he began to feel his own temper start to rise.

 

"Come on Johnnie, you know if you weren't doing him…"

 

Face was back on top of Frankie before anyone on the team could react, none of them exactly sure how he escaped their grip, and pounding his fist into the stunt expert's stomach.  When the team did manage to get a hold of him, it took everything they had to pull Face off the other man.

 

BA finally managed to grab Face around the waist and physically lifted the blonde into the air to remove him from Santana.

 

"Get him out of here!" Hannibal yelled as he tried to put himself between Face and Frankie, who was laying on the ground, gasping for air.

 

Following the Colonel's orders, BA swung Face over his shoulder and packed the blonde out of the garage, with Murdock right on his heels, trying desperately to calm their friend down.

 

As soon as the three men were out of the garage, Hannibal spun on Frankie.

 

"Have you lost your mind provoking him like that?"

 

"It wasn't my fault; I was just dusting some dirt off the back of his pants."

 

"You touched him?"

 

"I was just trying to get the dirt off…"

 

"Do you have any idea what he could do to you?  How many times do I have to tell you to leave Face alone?  You're lucky BA was here to save your sorry ass.  He could have ripped your head off and handed it to you before you even knew what happened."

 

"He got in a few lucky shots," Santana tried to salvage some of his pride as he stood up.

 

"He was getting ready to tear you apart sucker!" BA growled as he re-entered the garage. "Hannibal, you're needed back in the house.  The fool thinks Faceman might have pulled some stitches loose, but Face locked the bedroom door and won't let him in."

 

"Damn.  This isn't over with Frankie," Hannibal called out over his shoulder as he quickly made his way back to the house.

 

"Suppose that Face is going to cry to Johnnie like he cried to you." Frankie crossed his arms over his chest as he began to pout.

 

"Face didn't come out here to cry to me sucker.  I asked him to help me with my van."

 

"Give me a break, I saw you wiping the tears off his face."

 

"You saw me helping him get grease off of his face.  Man you an idiot for saying that stupid stuff to him."  BA sighed as he realized all the crap Frankie had said to Face.  "How many times you got to be told Face is dangerous."

 

"He can't be that damn tough, he's a fa..."

 

BA grabbed Frankie and slammed him against the van.

 

"Told you about that trash last night, you talk'n about my little brother and my Colonel. So if you don't want to pick your teeth up off the floor, I suggest you keep your mouth shut." 

 

With that BA shoved Frankie down on the ground and stomped back into the mansion.

 

Santana sat on the ground and crossed his arms over his chest.  Now the whole team was mad at him, and it was all Face's fault. If the little crybaby could just take a joke then he wouldn't be on Johnnie's shit list, BA wouldn't be mad at him, and Murdock would want to talk to him. But instead they were all in the house trying to get the baby to calm down.

 

 

Hannibal ran back into the house and flew up the stairs, as he started down the hallway he found Murdock banging on Face's bedroom door.

 

"Come on Facey, open up. I just need to make sure you're all right then I promise I'll leave you alone. Please just let me check you out," Murdock begged.

 

"What's going on Captain?" Hannibal asked as he ran up to the pilot. 

 

"I saw blood on his shirt when BA put him down, but before I could get to him, he slammed the door and locked it." Murdock turned back to the door. "Come on Facey open up.  Please Facey?"

 

"Murdock go back downstairs; let me have a few minutes alone with him."

 

"Are you sure, Colonel?"

 

Hannibal nodded.  He waited for Murdock to go back down the stairs before he turned back to the locked bedroom door.

 

Taking a deep breath as he decided how he was going to handle this situation.  He could be the Colonel and order Face to open the door. He could be the younger man's friend and beg him to open the door.  Instead he decided to do the one thing he knew would work.

 

Taking a deep breath he leaned against the door.

 

"Tem, it's John, open the door."

  

He was just about to call out again when he heard the lock click.

 

'Thank you, Lord.' Hannibal sighed as he turned the knob and slowly pushed the door open. As he walked into the room, he noticed Face moving back to the window. The younger man's movements were slow and stiff.

 

"Face, you need to go lay down, so I can check you out."  Hannibal moved to stand behind his lover, reaching out he put his hands on the younger man's shoulders and tried to guide him toward the bed, but Face jerked out from under his grip.

 

"I'm fine," Face responded as he tried to keep moving toward the window.

 

"Murdock said you were bleeding." Hannibal moved to stand in front of his lover, blocking his way.

 

"It's not blood, its break fluid," Face growled as he leaned against the window sill.

 

"I'd still like to check."

 

"I'm fine!" Face snapped at him as he tried to move away.

 

Hannibal knew Face was upset and he was allowing him to vent, but he was not going to be disrespected either.

 

"Face."

 

"I'm not a baby; I don't need you to…

 

Before Face could continue, Hannibal pulled him into a tight embrace pinning the blonde to his chest preventing him from moving away.

 

"That's enough, Templeton." Hannibal moved one of his hands to the back of Face's neck and forced the younger man's head to his shoulder. "Enough," he whispered into the blonde hair.   

 

"I want out of here.  I can't take this place anymore.  I can't take him anymore."

 

"Face…"

 

"You don't understand, if you guys hadn't stopped me, I was going to kill him."

 

"Face, you were upset, you would stopped before…"

 

Face pulled back so that he was looking Hannibal straight in the eyes.

 

"No, I was going to kill him."

 

Hannibal stared back at Face, blue eyes staring into blue-green ones.  Hannibal swallowed at what he saw there.

 

"You're wrong.  I know you better than you think, and I know for a fact that the man I love isn't a killer."

 

Face tried to look away, but Hannibal grabbed a hold of his face, and forced him to look at him.

 

"I'm not done Tem.  Sixteen years ago I think you would have snapped Frankie's neck without a second thought, but not now."

 

"Hannibal…"

 

 "No Tem, you're a better man than that." Hannibal waited a second to let these words sink into Face's mind before he continued. "You're a better man than Frankie could ever think of being."

 

Hannibal moved his hands so he could caress is lover's face.

 

"I'm not the only one who thinks that way either, there are two men downstairs that trust you with their lives.  We wouldn't go anywhere on this earth with out you kid. "

 

"I'm just so tired of this." Face sighed as he broke eye contact with the older man; unable to look Hannibal in the eye, for fear he would see through him, see the killer that Face had nearly let come out.  Hannibal may think he wouldn't have done it, but Face wasn't so sure.  But how could he disappoint Hannibal?

 

Hannibal pulled Face into his arms and hugged him close once more.

 

"Just a little while longer kid, just give me a little more time," Hannibal promised as he held Face tight.

 

Hannibal felt as Face took in a deep breath and slowly let it out.

 

"Alright." Face sighed as he pulled out of Hannibal's grip so he could look the older man in the eyes. "But I'm not going to apologize to him."

 

"Never asked you too." Hannibal smiled as he ran his fingers through Face's hair. "Now go lay down so I can look at you."

 

"I told you I was alright."

 

"And as your commanding officer, I want to see with my own eyes. Now move it Lieutenant," Hannibal commanded as he shoved the younger man toward the bed.

 

Slowly a smile spread across Hannibal's face as he watched the blonde move toward the bed.

 

 "And as your partner, maybe I want to see that sexy body of yours." Reaching out, he smacked the younger man on the backside, causing Face to spin around and glare at him.

 

"Sorry kid couldn't resist."  Hannibal grinned. "I mean you do have a nice ass."

 

 

 

Hannibal looked down as Face moaned, then shifted in his arms.

 

"Just a little while longer Face…" Hannibal stopped; he didn't know what else to say.

 

What could he say?  They were at lease two miles from the van, and under normal circumstances they could have reached it in fifteen minutes.  With the snowstorm, it might have slowed them down to twenty minutes, but with the shape Face was in.…

 

He sighed deeply as he looked down at his lover, what the hell was he going to do?  If they moved him he would most likely bleed out in a matter of minutes, but if they stayed here in the cave, the kid would slowly die of blood loss and exposure.

 

"If I had just listened to you," he whispered into Face's hair as he hugged him closer to his body.

 

 

 

The next few days had been tense as Face and Frankie did everything in their power to keep away from each other. When the two did end up in the same room, you could cut the tension with a knife. It all came to a head when Stockwell came by to tell them they had another mission.

 

"Gentlemen." He looked at them, his gaze stopping on Santana as he surveyed the bruises on the man's face.

 

"Training exercise," Hannibal stated as he watched Stockwell stare Frankie up and down.

 

"Really, what type of training exercise?"

 

"Hand to hand combat." Hannibal looked over at Frankie, his eyes challenging the dark-haired man to contradict him.

 

"Interesting.  I have a very easy mission for you," Stockwell announced as he threw a file down on the coffee table.

 

"Nothing is ever easy when you are involved," Face snarled.

 

"Do you want your pardon, or not, Lieutenant Peck

 

"You know, I've heard this load of crap for the last…"

 

"Face, that's enough." Hannibal moved over to the couch to clamp his hand down on the back of the blonde's neck.  He knew Face was frustrated, they all were, but now was not the time or place. "General, I've already told you my Lieutenant is not fit for a mission. Your own doctors have not medically discharge him."

 

"Then he can stay here."

 

"We've had this discussion, we go as a team or we don't go at all."

 

"And you will lose your pardons as a team also."

 

"You can't do that!" Frankie jumped to his feet. "I've done everything you've ever asked me to do, and now just because of him, I'm going to loose it!"

 

"That's enough Frankie," Hannibal warned.

 

"No Johnnie, it's not fair. You always treat Face like he can't do anything wrong!  If he gets a hangnail, all of you act like it's some medical emergency, now he's going to cost us our freedom, and you're not going to do anything because he's your…"

 

"Watch your mouth boy!" Face snapped as he got to his feet, only to be grabbed by Hannibal.

 

"That's enough out of both of you!  This is not the time or the place." He glared at Frankie and squeezed Face's shoulder trying to get his point across.

 

Stockwell watched the scene play out in front of him, a small smile played at the corner of his lips.  He had wondered how long it would take for the team to fall apart with Santana added into the mix.  Now with any luck they would tear themselves apart and he wouldn't have to worry about disposing of them later.

 

"So Colonel, are you going, or are you refusing this mission?"

 

"General, I've told you that we go…"

 

"We're taking it," Face answered as he turned to stare at his lover, "but you mark my words Hannibal, he's going to fuck up and cost one of us our lives."

 

"Screw you Face!"  Frankie took a step toward the blonde.

 

Face, sensing the movement behind him, spun around to look at Santana, his eyes focusing on the younger man, looking for a weak point to start his attack.

 

"Any time you think you're man enough…!" Face snarled he tried to take a step toward the other man, only to be stopped by BA who had moved up to stand in front of him.

 

"Easy Faceman."

 

"Colonel Smith?"

 

Hannibal looked over at Face, then at Frankie; he knew that this was not going to work.  It wasn't healthy for any of them to go on a mission like this, but what was he going to do?  He was making plans for them to get out from under Stockwell's control, but he wasn't ready just yet.

 

"When do we leave?"  He sighed as he looked over at Face.

 

"I have all the information in the folder.  You leave in the morning."

 

"I ain't flying."

 

"You will be happy to hear Sergeant that you will be driving to this location."

 

"Great stuck in a van with him," Frankie grumbled.

 

"You can always ride on the luggage rack." Face shot back.

 

"The van doesn't have a luggage rack." Frankie smiled, thinking he had gotten one over on Face.

 

"My point exactly." Face smiled back.

 

"That's it out of both of you!" Hannibal snapped, tired of both men.

 

"I suggest you get your team under control Colonel Smith." Stockwell scowled as he left the room.

 

"What the hell has gotten into you?" Hannibal growled at Face as soon as the general left the room.

 

"Me?" Face looked at his leader in disbelief.

 

"Yes you!  Have you forgotten who is in command of this unit?"

 

"It used to be you, but lately it seems like Stockwell runs the show."

 

"Really Lieutenant, because where I'm standing you seem to want to lead."

 

"Hannibal I didn't mean…."

 

"No Face, I think you did, your attitude has gotten piss poor lately and I've just about had it.'

 

"My attitude, you let that man come in here and walk all over us, you let him," Face pointed toward Frankie, "join us, yet he has no skills, he damn near has gotten us killed a time or two and I have a bad attitude?  I can't believe…you know, forget it, just forget it."

 

With that, Face spun on his heel, and stormed out of the room.

 

"I'm not done with you Lieutenant!"  Hannibal yelled as he took several steps after the other man

 

 "Let him be Colonel." BA stepped in front of Hannibal, blocking his way.

 

"I'll go talk to him," Murdock offered as he stepped past the two men.

 

"See what I mean, he acts just like a baby." Frankie smiled smugly.

 

"Don't you say one word, if you would have just kept your mouth shut…"

 

"How is it my fault?  He's the one who started it?  All I said was…."

 

"Enough!" Hannibal yelled. "I have had enough out of the both of you.  So help me, you say one more word, and I'll have you run laps 'til you puke your lungs out!"

 

Hannibal continued to glare at the younger man, until he looked away.  With Frankie temporarily silenced, Hannibal grabbed the file off the table and stormed off to his room to read over it.

 

 

"Hey, Muchacho," Murdock called out softly as he pushed open the door to Face's room. He found his best friend sitting on the side of the bed with his head in his hand.

 

"I really screwed up, didn't I?" Face sighed, not even bothering to look up.

 

"If your asking me, did you mess up with Hannibal, yes. Are you asking me if you really pissed him off to the point he's ready to tear everyone a new one?  Then yes, you really screwed up," Murdock moved across the room to sit down next to Face and put his arm around the younger man's shoulder, "but you know he still loves you." Murdock laughed as he gently squeezed Face's arm.

 

"I know I should have kept my mouth shut, I know what I was saying was going to piss him off, but I couldn't stop myself."  Face looked over at his friend. "I don't know what is wrong with me."

 

"You're just tired Face, thing will change once we get out of here."

 

"If we get out of here." Face sighed as he dropped his head.

 

"Hannibal will get us out of this.  He's good at escape plans.  It may take him a while, but he'll get us out." Murdock shook Face's shoulder again.

 

"Now I'm going back downstairs to aggravate the big guy, you coming?"

 

"No, I have some things to think about."

 

"Alright, but you better come down for dinner."

 

"I'll be there."

 

"You don't show up I'll send the mud sucker after you."

 

"I'll be there." Face sighed.

 

 

 

Of course, Face hadn't shown up for dinner.  Still angry, Hannibal had ordered everyone to leave him alone.  Frankie had sat smugly throughout the entire meal, and Hannibal had wanted to knock the look right off his face and out of his chair.  He was in such a mood, and the smug look bothered him so much, that if Face had been there, he may just have let him get in one last blow.

 

Instead, he allowed his anger to intensify, and that anger could probably very well be the last memory Face has of him.  Hannibal tightened his grip on his lover as the thought brought a dull ache into the pit of his stomach, and tears burned behind his eyes. 

 

#

 

Face didn't even jump when his door slammed against the wall as Hannibal stormed in.  Two steps into the room, Hannibal slammed the door shut, and in his mind, he could just envision Frankie's smug look from downstairs, where he was certain to have heard the noise.

 

Face's packed duffel bag sat at the foot of the bed, waiting.  Face stood near the window, looking out.  His shoulders were slumped, and he didn't even bother turning to look at Hannibal.

                                          

"What's my rule about eating before a mission?  Especially where it concerns you, Lieutenant."

 

Face didn't turn as he replied, but his shoulders did square. "Better be careful with those special rules Colonel.  Frankie might get upset and accuse you of special treatment."

 

"God damn it Lieutenant," Hannibal snarled as he came across the room and spun Face around.  "I have had enough of your insubordinate attitude."  He watched Face raise his eyebrows at the challenge, but otherwise remain quiet.  "That's it Lieutenant.  You want to play games, we'll play.  When we get back, consider yourself in retraining.  You're going to regret crossing me."

 

"Like that's anything new," Face huffed under his breath.  "You want an apology Hannibal?  Fine, I'm sorry, but let's get one thing clear right now Colonel.  I've had it with Frankie.  He's an egotistical bastard who cares about nothing more then himself.  But more then him Hannibal, I've had it with Stockwell and these death missions he sends us on like his little puppets.  He is never," he emphasized, "going to give us pardons, and if you're gullible enough to believe that he is, then you deserve each other."  He took a step toward Hannibal as Hannibal opened his mouth to cut him off, but Face wasn't going to be stopped. 


"Take it as you want to Hannibal.  Take it as insubordination from your second in command, or take it as a direct threat from your lover, but either way Hannibal, I'm done.  I'll go on this mission with you.  I'll be his little puppet this one last time, but then, I'm done.  I've waited for you to come up with a plan to get us out of here, but Hannibal, you sprung us from prison in less then a week.  If you wanted out, we'd be out.  But, you know what I think Hannibal?  I think you're comfortable.  I think you feel safe, and part of you believes the crap about the pardons.  But I've told you before Hannibal, he's blowing smoke up your ass.  You either get us out, or I'm getting myself out."

 

Face stopped, his gaze hard, and his breathing slightly heavy.  Hannibal's eyes were locked with his, and his fury only grew at the insubordinate attitude.

 

Looking back, Hannibal couldn't even remember the exact words that he had said to Face, all he could remember is watching his lover's face fall at the harsh and cruel words, the words that now he only wished he could take back.  He remembered that Face took all that he had to dish out, quietly, not once interrupting.  He could see himself, in his mind, square his shoulders once more; at the end of his tirade, and stare directly at Face, "You want out, fine.  You know where the door is.  I won't stop you."

 

Face had swallowed, his gaze unsure.  "But will you come with me?" he add asked softly.  Hannibal turning on his heel and walking out was answer enough.

 

#

 

Hannibal could feel Face's body growing colder in his arms, and his worry intensified.  Murdock had finally been able to slow the bleeding, and they had packed the wound as tightly as they could.  They could now only hope that it would be enough until the storm at least stopped raging. 

 

He wished he could turn back time.  He wished he would have told Face the words that were on the tip of his tongue, but his anger and pride had not allowed them out.  He had meant to tell him later, but he had never gotten a chance. 

 

Hannibal sighed and leaned down, his lips brushing Face's ear.  "In a heartbeat kid," he whispered.  "I'd go with you in a heartbeat."

 

Face moaned softly, and his eyes flickered slightly behind his closed lids, but they didn't open, and Hannibal let the tear fall.

 

Looking back, Face had been right.  Face had known that Frankie was a danger to the team.  He had once told Hannibal that he threw them all off.  How were they supposed to work as a team, he had asked, when Frankie didn't know how?  Frankie liked to do things his own way.  It didn't matter if he had been ordered not to, if Frankie wanted to do something, he would, and that is exactly what brought them to the situation that now engulfed them.

 

#

 

"No fireworks Frankie," Hannibal had told the newest member of the team as they were going over the last minute details the evening before they left. 

 

Frankie looked up at him.  "But Johnnie," he had started to say.  But Hannibal had shaken his head. 

 

"This is a simple op.  In and out.  Face goes in, gets the papers, we provide a distraction.  Simple."

 

"Fireworks are a distraction," Frankie argued.

 

"Man said no fireworks!" BA snarled.  "He means no fireworks!" BA shot a glance at Face, who was now sitting unnaturally still and quiet.  His expression was closed and unreadable, but he listened intently to the instructions given as he sat next to Murdock.  BA watched Murdock flicker curious and worried looks Face's way, but Face ignored them, his focus on the mission ahead.

 

Hannibal had just opened his mouth to continue, when Frankie spoke up again.  "How come Face always gets to be the one to go in?"

 

Hannibal sighed, and looked over at him.  "Because he is the one with the training," he said simply, letting his gaze refocus on the folder in his hands.

 

"But I could go in and get them," Frankie continued on.  "I mean, it can't be that hard if Face can do it."

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Hannibal could see Face grinding his teeth, and Murdock put a restraining hand on his leg, but otherwise, Face didn't move or react.

 

Hannibal looked squarely at Frankie.  "You have no idea what type of training Face has when it comes to situations as these.  Beyond all that, tell me something Frankie, can you pick a lock?  Can you pop a safe, just from listening to the clicks on a tumbler, because I sure as hell can't."

 

Frankie was quiet.  "That's what I thought." He turned back to the folder.  "Now, as I was saying.  In and out.  Face, you go in, find the papers, get back out.  We'll provide you with a distraction."

 

"I think you let him have all the good jobs because you're sleeping with him.  And I think Face likes it when daddy takes him up the ass.  You never had a real daddy, but that's what you would have wanted, isn't it Face?"

 

Hannibal hadn't even had enough time to lift his head up in shock at Frankie's calculating words, when he caught a flash out of the corner of his eye.  The next thing he knew, Frankie was out of his chair, half sitting on the floor, and Face was behind him, one hand on Frankie's chin, the other fisted in Frankie's hair.  Face forced their eyes to meet, his own eyes hard, and Frankie's were wide with the first semblance of fear that he had shown toward Face.

 

The team was on their feet, and Hannibal took a step toward them, but Face quickly shot him a look.  "Back off," he ordered him, his voice low and even, and Hannibal had no choice but to stop.  He had seen the gleam in Face's eyes, and he was suddenly afraid that

Frankie had pushed too far.  Of all the stupid, idiotic things to say, he couldn't help muttering in his mind. 

 

He couldn't even open his mouth to order Face off.  Instead, he watched in fear as Face turned his focus back on Frankie.

 

"I could rip your head off in less then two seconds.  It would be so easy.  Just a tiny twist and you'd be dead.  Or, I could twist just enough, to not kill you, but leave you paralyzed from your neck down for the rest of your life.  That sounds even better.  You think you're so smart Santana?  You think you know everything?  Tell me something Frankie, did you know that I've killed more people with my bare hands then you could ever possibly imagine?" 

 

The team all watched Frankie swallow, his eyes wide and shocked.  "Piss me off one more time Frankie, and I swear to God that I will show you exactly what I'm capable of in the most painful, non-lethal way that I know how."

 

With that, Face shoved Frankie away from him, then got to his feet, and walked to the stairs, disappearing from sight.  No one moved.

 

Frankie sat in shock, staring after Face, and then slowly looked around the room at Hannibal, Murdock and BA, and the expressions on their faces.  He pushed himself to his feet. 


"Did you see that?  He's crazy.  He was going to kill me."


Hannibal shook his head.  "No Frankie, if he was going to, you'd be dead."

 

Frankie swallowed hard, and then shook his head.  "Well, he threatened me.  What are you going to do about it Johnnie?" he whined.

 

Hannibal shook his head, exchanging a look with his team.  "First Frankie, you need to understand something.  If Face decides to harm you in anyway, there will be nothing that I can do about it.  Second, you've been warned to watch your mouth, especially around him.  Did you really think that comment of yours wouldn't get the shit kicked out of you?  We've warned you that Face is not to be crossed.  He's dangerous when he's pissed off.  You chose not to believe us, well Frankie, you were wrong.  Dead wrong."

 

His gaze was hard and penetrating.  "You better get your act together Frankie, because you're treading on real thin ice with all of us.  I cannot believe that you said what you did.  But let's get something straight; I don't favor Face because I sleep with him.  Face is one hell of a soldier, and if you opened your eyes for even one minute, you would see that.  Next, your 'daddy' comment does not sit well with me.  If only you knew how stupid you are, and how stupid that comment was.  But, I will tell you one thing Frankie, you're lucky he didn't kill you.  I thought he would."

 

Without another word, Hannibal sat down and picked the folder he had dropped, back up.  Hannibal and Murdock settled beside him, and Frankie nervously dropped himself into a chair.  Face came back downstairs a few minutes later, calm, his expression closed, but he didn't make eye contact with anyone.

 

They finished briefing for the mission, and Hannibal ordered everyone off to get some sleep.  He had paused outside Face's room.  He knew that he should have gone in.  That he should have talked to him.  Told him he'd go anywhere with him, without hesitation.  Make sure he was okay after Frankie's comment… but he hadn't.  Instead, he turned and went into his own room, leaving Face alone with his thoughts.

 

#

 

Hannibal regretted it now.  Regretted it in the middle of the night when he had gotten up for a drink of water, and had checked in on Face.  When he had opened the door, he had found him in the throes of a silent nightmare.  Face was twisted in the sheets, his face and neck damp with sweat.  He was tossing back and forth, his jaw clenched and hard.  Hannibal had crept silently in the room, and spoken quietly to Face until Face had calmed.  Letting him know that he was there, he brushed the damp blonde locks off Face's forehead, but Face hadn't woken.  Finally, regrettably, he had pushed himself to his feet, and with one last glance at Face, left the room to get more sleep before the mission.

 

"His pulse is 130," Murdock said softly, breaking through Hannibal's thoughts.  "I got the bleeding stopped, but if we move him, it could start again." 


Hannibal sighed, meeting the pilot's eyes, then BA's.  "There's no way to get the van back here, is there?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

 

BA shook his head.  "No man.  It's too wooded, and then there's that lake."

 

Hannibal pinched the bridge of his nose.  "Damnit Frankie!" he cursed angrily.  "Of all the stupid ideas."

 

"Johnnie, I told you, I'm sorry," Frankie muttered from the corner of the cave, where he sat huddled in a ball as far away from the team as he possibly could.

 

"SORRY?" Hannibal thundered.  "A lot of good sorry does us now.  You nearly killed us.  What part of NO FIREWORKS didn't you understand?"

 

"I just thought-" Frankie started, but Hannibal cut him off.

 

"No, Frankie, what you thought was that Face was getting the 'good' job again.  You couldn't stand to maybe be second to him.  What you don't get is that a team works together.  There are no better jobs.  Every job is important.  And if every person doesn't do his job, the job they were ordered to do then something like this happens."

 

Hannibal couldn't believe that Frankie had completely disregarded everything that he had said.  Then again, maybe he shouldn't be so surprised.  Face had, after all, warned him, and his words rung strong in his ears now.

 

…"but you mark my words Hannibal, he's going to fuck up and cost one of us our lives."

 

Hannibal's heart skipped a beat as he registered that it very well may be Face's life that he had cost.  He sighed, resting his head against Face's temple.  "I should have listened to you kid," he mumbled.

 

#

 

True to his word, Face had gotten in the secluded cabin, found the safe, and had it open in a matter of minutes, while the rest of the team distracted the occupants of the cabin by simply setting off the alarms on the far side of the perimeter, then backtracking to the place where they agreed to meet Face.  He should have wondered at Frankie's absence, but didn't have time to give it much thought. 

 

Face had appeared in the clearing, and had handed Murdock the papers, who quickly put them in the waterproof folder and tucked them into their bag.  Hannibal was at the far side of the clearing, his focus on the sounds in the distance.  When he turned to tell his men to fall out, it was then he noticed Frankie wasn't with them.

 

They backtracked around the cabin; their eyes open for Frankie.  He expected to hear Face grumbling under his breath, but he didn't make a sound, instead he kept his eyes peeled as he led them through the dense forest.

 

Face was the first to spot Frankie, kneeling on the ground near a tree.  They ran up to him, thinking he was wounded, when he stood up quickly and looked at them in sheepish surprise.  Hannibal had narrowed his eyes at him.

 

"What have you done?"

Frankie shook his head.  "Nothing Johnnie.  Just left a little surprise for the bad guys, that's all."  He smiled broadly, as though he thought Hannibal would be impressed with him, or proud.


"I told you no fireworks Frankie," he hissed.  "What part of that didn't you get?"

 

Frankie shook his head again.  "Well, I thought we needed them," he said haughtily.

 

Hannibal had opened his mouth to yell at him, when Face stopped him with a shake of his head.  "Not now Hannibal, we got company," he muttered softly.

 

Hannibal nodded, and with a last glare at Frankie, motioned for Face to lead again. 


"Why's he always getting to lead?" Frankie whined.

 

"Shut up Frankie," Hannibal hissed.

 

Frankie sighed deeply, and audibly, but didn't say anything more as he fell back to walk with Murdock and BA, who were taking up the rear. Hannibal was five steps behind Face, when Face stilled and held up his hand.  Everyone came to a stop.  Face motioned for Murdock, BA and Frankie to spread out into the woods.  Frankie had grumbled, but Murdock grabbed his arm and dragged him into the thick line of trees.  Face had looked at Hannibal, and had just opened his mouth to speak, when Hannibal watched Face's expression shift.   He caught Face's sudden move toward him, at the same second he registered the explosion.  He felt Face's body collide with his own, and then couldn't move as Face wrapped himself tightly around Hannibal, and wouldn't let go.

 

Later, they would learn that it had been some of Frankie's explosions that he had rigged up that had caused the explosion.  Hannibal had been standing practically on top of one, and Face had caught it in time to register the detonator was about to go off.  Only Face's quick thinking had stood between him, and certain death as Face had knocked him away from it. 

 

When the rumbling had ceased, Face had slowly pushed himself off of Hannibal, and up onto his forearms, as he listened to all around them.  He looked back down at Hannibal. 

 

"We have to move, now!  They're all around us."

 

"Where, how many?" Hannibal had asked, looking up at his lover's face as Murdock, BA and Frankie had run back out of the woods and surrounded them.

 

Hannibal watched Face close his eyes briefly, then open them up quickly.  "8...Three to the north, 100 yards and closing.  Two to the southeast, and three to the northwest, heading this way."

 

"How'd he do that?" Frankie asked in surprise. 

 

Murdock glanced over at him.  "That would be why he always leads," he told him, in his no-nonsense tone.  He didn't have time to play games.

 

Face quickly got to his feet, retrieved his rifle from where he had dropped it, and took point again.  It was as Hannibal was pushing himself to his feet, that he noticed the blood staining his own shirt.  He fingered it slowly, his eyes widening in shock. 

 

"Damn," he whispered, but Face was hissing over his shoulder for everyone to move, and Hannibal realized they had very little choice but to fall out.

 

#

 

"In and out." Hannibal looked over at Frankie. "They never would have known that we were in that cabin. All you had to do is follow one simple order."

 

"Look Johnnie how many times do I have to say that I'm sorry? I don't think…"

 

"That's the problem fool, you don't ever think," BA growled as he reached over to rub Face's leg.

 

#

 

They had run hard for twenty minutes, crisscrossing the forest, making their way toward the van, while making sure that they had lost the men following them.  This was no easy task due to the snow that had started to fall, and the wind that was now howling.

 

"Face, stop a minute," Hannibal yelled as he ran to catch up with the blonde. 

 

Face turned to look at him for a brief moment as if to consider going on, but nodded his head and stopped, allowing the rest of the group to catch up with him.

 

"How much farther to the van?" Hannibal huffed as he leaned against the tree Face was currently using for support.

 

"Four miles if we go straight to it, three miles if we go toward the lake and the cliffs. It'll be harder to cross that way, but the ground not being soft should keep them from following us."

 

"They still back there, kid?"

 

"Can't be sure Hannibal, I can't hear much of anything over the wind." 

 

"Alright, Face continue on point, Murdock, Frankie you're next, BA you take the rear. I'm going to go back and see if we have any company; I'll meet back up with you in a few." 

 

"Johnnie, can't we rest for a minute?" Frankie whined as he tried to catch his breath.

 

"You can rest in the van," Hannibal yelled back over his shoulder. "Face, get going."

 

Hannibal backtracked for ten minutes; once he was sure that they were not being followed, he started to make his way back. Traveling was difficult due to the amount of snow that was falling. He stopped to catch his breath by the tree where the team had rested a little while before. Leaning over to block some of the wind that was whipping around his head, he noticed the blood stain in the snow.  Keeping his head down, Hannibal began to look up over the footprints where the team had walked. Several feet from the tree he found another drop of blood. As he continued, he noticed that the drops were getting bigger and closer together. Suddenly, he felt like he had been hit in the gut.

 

"Face." Fear started to build as he remembered the bloodstain on his own shirt, blood that was not his own.

 

Hannibal began to run, faster and harder than he had in a long time.  Fifteen minutes later, he caught up with BA.

 

"Where's Face?" Hannibal huffed as he grabbed the big man by the shoulder.

 

"He's on point, 'bout two minutes ahead of me. What's wrong?"

 

"He's injured."

 

"When did he get hurt?" BA asked as he began to run beside the colonel.

 

"I think when he shoved me off that damn trap Frankie set."

 

"Man thats been over thirty minutes ago. You sure he's hurt?'

 

Without saying a word, Hannibal pointed down to several large drops of blood in the fresh snow, before taking off into a run.  A few minutes later, he came to Murdock and Frankie; he looked around but there was still no sign of Face.

 

"Where's Face?"

 

"He went over the ridge to make sure no one had gotten in front of us."

 

"Don't see how they could," Frankie huffed. "He hasn't slowed down, come on Johnnie, can't we just sit down for a minute?"

 

Without another word, Hannibal took off in a dead run toward the ridge.

 

"What's going on?" Murdock asked BA as the big man ran up to them.

 

"Faceman's hurt, been leaving a trail of blood a blind man could see," BA explained as he started off after the Colonel.

 

When Hannibal got over the top of the ridge, he could see Face leaning up against a large rock, shaking his head.

 

"Face, Face don't move," Hannibal yelled as he picked his way through the rocks to get down where his Lieutenant was standing.

 

"Face?" Hannibal called out softly causing the younger man's head to snap up, his full attention on the man in front of him. 

 

"Colonel I've scouted ahead, they didn't get in front of us. If we walk over that ridge there," Face motioned toward the next ridge half mile away, "we should only be about a mile, to a mile and a half from the van."

 

"Face, unzip your jacket," Hannibal commanded softly.

 

"My jacket?" Face looked at him, his eyes questioning the Colonel's order.

 

"You're injured, Face, I need to see how bad it is." Hannibal reached over to unzip the younger man's jacket, but Face shoved him away.

 

"I don't know what you're talking about, but I'm not hurt and if we get moving we can be to the van in another fifteen minutes."

 

"After you let me see your side."

 

"Damn it Colonel, we don't have time for this right now!  I'm cold, I'm tired, and …" Face stopped, the words freezing on his lips.  Hannibal watched as the younger man's face became white, his pupils widened, and his eyes lost their focus. "Hannibal… I don't feel so well…" Face moaned as he fell forward into his lover's arms.

 

Hannibal gently lowered the unconscious man to the ground; quickly he unzipped Face's jacket.  "Damn," he muttered as he noticed the white shirt, stained red with Face's blood.

 

"Hannibal, what happened?" Murdock asked as he noticed the blood flowing out of Face's side.

 

"Frankie's what happened!" Hannibal snapped as he unbuttoned Face's shirt revealing the torn flesh.

 

"How can you blame this on me?  I didn't do anything!  Maybe he fell and got hurt on his own.  Maybe your precious little Face fell, and was too proud to tell his lover.  He's such a spoiled…"

 

Hannibal lost it at that point; he knew that he should be taking care of Face, but he couldn't see past his anger. At that moment he had had enough, the days of Frankie picking on Face was at its end. Before anyone could react, Hannibal had Frankie by the collar slamming him against the rock. 

 

"I should kill you right now, you piece of crap.  I try to help you understand the way he is, the shit he's been through in his life, and you turn it into some joke.  The rest of the team has warned you, now I'm telling you, so help me God, you say one more thing about him, just one more damn word against him, and you wont have to worry about Face, because I'll tear you apart myself!"

 

With that, Hannibal shoved Frankie to the ground before turning back to his fallen lover.

 

No one said a word as Hannibal took off his own jacket and removed his shirt.  Folding it up, he used it to cover the wound, hoping to slow the flow of blood flowing from Face's side.

 

"Get your jacket on Colonel, I'll keep pressure on it," Murdock offered as he moved to kneel beside Face.

 

At first, Hannibal just looked at the other man, he could hear the words coming out of the pilot's mouth, but they just wouldn't register.

 

"Hannibal, let me help," Murdock tried again, this time reaching over to place his hand over the top of his commanders.

 

"Come on man, you going to freeze." BA reached down and picked up Hannibal's jacket, and helped the Colonel back into it.

 

"I should have listened to him," Hannibal whispered as he looked down at Face. Reaching out, he ran his fingers through the soft blonde hair, leaving a red smear through it.  This was all it took to snap Hannibal out of his daze.

 

"BA, Face said we are about two miles from the van, I want you to take point.  Murdock, I'm going to carry Face, I want you to keep as much pressure on that wound as you can.  We're going to move as fast as we can.  Frankie keep up, if you fall behind, you'll get left behind."

 

"You sure you don't want me to carry him?" BA looked at Hannibal. He knew that the colonel was feeling a lot of guilt over Face's injuries, but he knew that he could carry Face better.

 

"We're going to take turns, as soon I start to slow down I want you to take over.  Everyone ready?  Alright people, lets move."

 

They had only made it a half-mile before the snow and wind had forced them to take shelter in the back of the small cave. And here they all sat, huddled together, trying to protect Face; praying to God that the young man would, could, hold on until he could come up with a plan to get them home safe.

 

From the side of the cave, Frankie muttered something under his breath.

 

"What's that Frankie?" Hannibal snapped.

 

Frankie sighed.  "Nothin', just said I'm cold, that's all."


"We all are," Hannibal retorted.  "Deal with it."

 

"Aww, come on Johnnie, you're not going to stay mad at me all night, are you?"


Hannibal slowly turned his head to look at the other man, while Murdock and BA glanced between them, knowing Hannibal was on the verge of ripping Frankie's head off as it was.

 

"All night Frankie?  All night?  You have been doing nothing but goading Face for the last couple of months.  We told you to leave him alone, yet you purposely antagonize him just to see what he's going to do.  You force me to choose Frankie, and I'll choose Face over and over again.  Do you got that?  If it's not bad enough that you pick fights with him, just to try to prove you're a better man than him, which you're not, you go and make that idiotic comment about letting his daddy take him up the ass.  You have NO idea what his life was like growing up, and yet you make a comment like that.  I could have killed you myself.  If you only knew half of what Face went through as a kid, you would have ripped your tongue out before saying something as stupid as what you did!  Then, to top it all off, you go and directly disobey my orders, and he may die because of it."


"Don't go blaming me for Face trippin' and fallin'."


If Hannibal hadn't been holding Face in his arms, he would have stormed across the cave and skinned Frankie alive, but he was, and therefore forced himself to stay where he was.


"You blew him up Frankie!  You set off those Goddamn fireworks after I specifically told you not to.  I was standing right on top of one, and didn't even realize it.  Face did, and knocked me off of it just as the damn thing exploded, sending shrapnel into his side, digging a hole the size of the Grand Canyon, and ripping nearly healed stitches completely out!  Now, you want to tell me again that it wasn't your fault?"


Frankie paled.  They all watched it happen. 

 

"I didn't think it would…"

 

"You know what, just shut the hell up!  I don't want to hear one more word out of you, not one more word," Hannibal snapped.

 

"Colonel, you're giving me a headache."

 

Hannibal looked down at Face, who was staring up at him with a confused look on his pale face.

 

"Hey kid." Hannibal smiled down at the younger man, his own eyes bright with tears.

 

"What's going on?" Face asked as he tried to sit straight up, only to be stopped by the team.

 

"Easy Face, you're injured."

 

"Hurt, when, how did I get hurt?" Face asked as he tried to sit up again, only to be pushed back down.

"Face, what is that last thing you remember?"

 

"I was leaning up against a rock trying to brief you, but all you were interested in was trying to take my jacket off."

 

"You don't remember feeling faint."

 

"No, Hannibal what is going on?  Where are we?"

 

"You caught a lot of shrapnel in the side from that damn explosion; I didn't realize you were injured until I noticed the blood trail…

 

"I left a blood trail?" Face shook his head as if to clear it. "Hannibal we have to get moving, they can track us."

 

"Not the way it's snowing out there; I'm sure that all of our tracks are covered."

 

"We can't take that chance, have to get moving." Face struggled to get up again.

 

"Face no one is following us," Hannibal reassured the younger man as he tightened his hold on him. "Now be still before you reopen that wound."

 

"But…"

 

"Hush, just be still for a few minutes."

 

"Colonel, we have to…"

 

Leaning over, Hannibal captured Face lips with his own; he held the kiss until the younger man quieted in his arms.

 

"Be still, Lieutenant that's an order."

 

"Yes, sir," Face whispered as he laid his head back against Hannibal's chest.

 

"Gross," Frankie mumbled.

 

"You got a problem Santana?" Hannibal asked as he looked across the cave.

 

Frankie looked at Face, then at Hannibal; he was going to tell the Colonel what he thought of him kissing Face, but decided against it when he noticed how hard and cold Hannibal's blue eyes were.

 

"No Johnnie," Frankie squeaked out.

 

"I didn't think so." Hannibal glared at the other man for another minute before he glanced down at Face, who was looking up at him.

 

"I miss something Colonel?"

 

"Nothing for you to worry about kid." Hannibal smiled down as he reached over to caress Face's cheek.

 

"I take it you're not mad at me anymore?"

 

"I could never stay mad at you, and to answer your question from earlier, yes I'd go with you."

 

"Really?"

 

"Anywhere you want, we'll go."

 

"Some place warm, and with a better interior design would be nice."

 

"I don't know what I'm going to do with you."  Hannibal chucked as he reached down and ruffled the blonde's hair.

 

"Get me home," Face whispered as he closed his eyes.  He could feel his energy and strength leaving as the minutes ticked by.

 

"I'm working on it kid."

 

Face opened his eyes to look up at his lover; he could see the concern that the other man had for him.

 

"You know we're going to have to move real soon.  I'm not going to be able to walk if we wait to much longer."

 

"We can't risk moving you you've lost a lot of blood..."

 

"And I'm not going to get any better laying here." Face closed his eyes for a brief moment gathering his strength for what he had to do. "Colonel, I'm a liability to this team right now; we have to move…"

 

"Face you have…"

 

"No sir, we have to move now!  You know that Colonel."

 

Hannibal looked into the blue-green eyes; he sighed as he watched as Face's gaze turn hard.  Face was turning his mind and emotions inward, channeling all his energy inward, getting his body ready to go.  To put it bluntly, he was no longer cradling his lover in his arms.  Now he was holding his second; a trained soldier, and man on a mission.

 

"Alright Lieutenant." Hannibal nodded to Face before looking up at the rest of the team.  "We move in ten minutes."

 

"Hannibal if he starts to…" Murdock started but was abruptly stopped.

 

"Ten minutes; Captain I need your belt.  I'm going to wrap it around Face. I want you to hold that shirt as tight to his side as you can, while I tighten it."

 

"Sure Colonel." The pilot took his belt off all the while looking at Face.

 

"Alright Lieutenant, this is going to hurt."

 

"Ready," Face stated firmly as he looked up directly into Hannibal's eyes.

 

"You squeeze my hand when it starts to hurt little bro," BA whispered in Face's ear.  The response he got was a slight nod of the blonde's head as he took a hold of the big man's hand, his eyes never leaving the Colonel's.

 

"Okay Murdock, on three," Hannibal warned as he slid the belt under Face.

 

"One, two, three."

 

Murdock pushed down hard on the wound as Hannibal tightened the belt securing it across Face's stomach.  Face tightened his grip on BA's hand, and sucked in air as the pain jolted through his body, but he never once broke eye contact with Hannibal.

 

Once the belt was secure, Hannibal leaned back to examine the wound.

 

"So far, so good."  He looked up at Face noticing the pain-filled eyes. He knew that his lover was doing everything in his power to keep his pain and emotions to himself.

 

"We need to move Colonel," Face hissed through clenched teeth.  He had to move; he knew if he didn't get moving now, he would lay there in the warmth of Hannibal's arms until he bled to death.

 

"Alright, BA, help him up"

 

BA carefully pulled Face to his feet.  Hannibal frowned as the younger man swayed; reaching out, he grabbed Face's arm to steady him.

 

"I'm fine, sir."  Face turned to look at him.

 

Hannibal nodded as he noticed the hardness had returned to the blue-green eyes.

 

"Alright Lieutenant."  Hannibal nodded.  "Let's get you zipped up."  Moving slowly to keep from startling the blonde, the Colonel knelt down to zip Face's coat.  "Okay everyone, we're going to move at a steady pace.  BA, I'm going to start by carrying Face first…"

 

"No one is going to carry me anywhere Colonel," Face stated as he straightened to his full height.

 

"Face, I'm not going to argue with you."

 

"Neither am I, sir, with the snow on the ground it's too dangerous to try and carry a man.  If you were to slip then there could be two men down.  We can't risk it, and you know it, Colonel."

 

Hannibal wanted to argue with Face, but he knew the younger man was right.

 

"Facey you can lean on me…" Murdock started, but stopped when Face turned to look at him. "When you need to." He swallowed the lump in his throat.

 

"If I need your help, I'll let you know." The Lieutenant glared at the pilot. "Now lets move." 

 

With that, Face limped out of the cave, BA and Murdock followed right behind him.  As Frankie started to leave the cave entrance, Hannibal stopped him.

 

"Let me warn you now Frankie, don't talk to him, and whatever you do, don't touch him.  Face is focused and in his own world right now. Don't make him include you in that world."  With that Hannibal followed the rest of his team out of the cave.

 

The Lieutenant managed to make the first half-mile without much trouble.  As they started the next leg of the hike, he began to slow.  He could feel the wound on his side opening, and blood oozing down his leg, pooling in the bottom of his combat boot. He knew what he had to do; he reached down into himself, pushing himself harder.  Digging down deep into his reserves.

 

Hannibal watched as Face began to stagger, he had noticed the drops of blood on the snow.

 

"Lieutenant, I want you to pull back; Murdock you take point."

 

"Sir…"

 

"That's a direct order Lieutenant, fall back."

 

"Yes sir." Face slowed, allowing Murdock to take the lead.

 

"How much farther, Face?" When Face didn't respond, Hannibal tried again. "Report Lieutenant."

 

"At least a mile, mile and a quarter, Colonel.  There should be a field just over that ridge; the van's on the other side of the field."

 

"How are you holding up, Lieutenant?"

 

"I can hold my own sir."  Face straightened, despite the pain it caused him.

 

"I know you can kid, but I need to know your physical status."

 

Face studied his commander closely as he made his report.

 

"The wound has opened up again, I know it's bleeding, but I don't know how bad."

 

"Pain?"

 

"I can handle myself, sir."

 

Hannibal stared at Face; he could see the younger man slipping deeper and deeper into his old training.  Face was moving into full survival mode; it wouldn't be long before he would stop communicating with him altogether.  Face would do whatever it took to get the rest of the team out alive, even if it cost the younger man his own life. 

 

"Move out then." Hannibal motioned Face forward.

 

"BA," Hannibal called out once Face was out of earshot. "Stick close to him, be ready to move on my signal, but whatever you do, don't touch him."

 

"Right."  BA moved to follow Face.

 

"How much longer Johnnie?" Frankie panted as he caught up with the Colonel.  "I'm freezing."

 

"I don't really care," Hannibal snapped as he moved to catch up with BA and Face.

 

The five made it over the ridge and into the field before Face's injuries caught up with him.  He began to feel lightheaded and his vision began to gray.  As he shook his head to clear it, he stumbled over a rock, causing him to fall to the ground, landing hard on his injured side.

 

BA started to move to help Face up, when Hannibal grabbed him.

 

"Not yet, Sergeant."

 

Hannibal moved to stand over Face. "You need help Lieutenant?"

 

"No sir," Face snapped as he slowly rose to his feet.

 

"Hannibal!" BA motioned toward the ground, and the snow stained with blood.

 

Hannibal looked over at Face; he could still see the hardness in his second's eyes.  He wanted to help Face just as bad as BA did, but he knew that they couldn't.

 

"Not yet, BA.  Just a few more minutes and our Face should be back with us."

 

Hannibal watched as his Lieutenant staggered a few more feet before he fell again.  Hannibal's heart began to break as he watched his lover struggle to his feet, take a few more steps, and fall again.  He wanted to take Face into his arms and carry him the rest of the way, but he knew he had to wait.  Face was in pure survival mode his mind was focused on one thing and one thing only, the safety of his team. He knew that he would have to let Face keep pushing himself until he couldn't physically go any further. He had to let the Lieutenant go as far as he could, once he was finished with the blonde's body, Hannibal knew Face would be back. 

 

The Lieutenant managed to get to his feet again, only to fall seconds later; his strength seemed to be fading; he could feel himself weakening.  As much as he wanted to lead the team to safety, he knew he wasn't going to make it on his own; he was going to have to give up control.

 

Face looked around confused; he tried to stand up, but couldn't seem to get his legs to support his weight.  Then, there was the sharp pain in his side.  He struggled as hard as he could, and managed to get his legs under him.  Once he was on his feet, he took one step, before they gave out.  Though this time, instead of hitting the ground, a pair of strong arms caught him.

 

"Easy kid, I've got you."

 

"Hannibal?"

 

Hannibal smiled when he noticed Face had not called him Colonel.  As he looked down into the blue-green eyes, he noticed the pain and confusion.  Gone was the hard, cold stare of the Lieutenant.

 

"Be still Face; were going to get you home."  Reaching down, he ran his fingers through the blonde hair.  "BA, give the keys to Murdock, have him get to the van, get it uncovered and warmed up.  We'll need to get Face to the first hospital we come to."

 

"You got it man," BA called out over his shoulder as he began to run toward Murdock.

 

"Face, do you think you can walk?"

 

"I'll try Hannibal."

 

"That's all I can ask for."

 

Hannibal helped Face to his feet.  They made it a few feet before BA came back to join them. With Hannibal supporting him on one side, and BA on the other, Face managed to make it halfway across the field before his legs collapsed out from under him; his strength completely gone.

 

In one swift movement, Hannibal scooped Face up into his arms; carrying him the rest of the way across the field.  As they made their way up a slope and onto the main road, he was greeted by the team's van.

 

BA ran over to the van, and opened the door while Murdock moved to the back to help Hannibal with Face.  

 

"Come on Frankie we don't have all day," Hannibal yelled as he began to unzip Face's blood-soaked jacket.

 

Frankie ran the rest of the way to the van; he huffed and puffed as he climbed into the passenger's seat. 

 

"Thank God, I thought I was going to freeze to death out there," Frankie complained as he put his hands over the heating vents.

 

"Shut up fool, if you had done what you were told, we would have been back here hours ago, and more importantly, Faceman wouldn't be hurt.  Furthermore, you are such a…"

 

"Pussy." Murdock yelled out from the back of the van.

 

BA nodded his head in agreement as he continued to let Frankie have it. "Faceman can make it out, with a hole in his side, practically bleeding to death, without one word of complaint, and yet all you do is bitch and moan all the way out?  Man, you disgust me.  Now get your hands off those so the air can circulate to the back."  

 

BA glanced in the rearview mirror to see the Colonel cutting off Face's shirt.  The younger man's chest and stomach was slick with blood.

 

"How is he Colonel?"

 

"Not good BA, we need to get him to a hospital quick."

 

"On our way man." BA shifted the van into drive, his full concentration on getting Face to a hospital.

 

Hannibal carefully cut Face's blood-soaked shirt off.   As he pulled the shirt back, he felt a knot grow in his stomach. The shirt that he had used to cover the wound was soaking wet with blood.  Hannibal pulled the shirt off and threw it in the corner of the van.

 

As soon as the shirt was off, Murdock began to pack fresh bandages over the wound, adding more and more pads as each one began to soak through.

 

"How're you doing kid?"  Hannibal reached over to stroke Face's pale cheek.

 

"Sleepy," Face whispered as he turned his head to look up at the older man.

 

"I need you to stay awake Face."

 

"We're coming into a town Hannibal, and they got a hospital," BA called out as he crossed over into the town's city limits, and he saw the big blue H sign pointing in the direction the hospital would be.

 

"You hear that Face, you hang on kid."

 

"So tired." Face closed his eyes, and then opened them again when Hannibal slapped him lightly on the cheek.

 

"Come on Face let's see those pretty eyes of yours."

 

Face was trying his hardest to do as he was told, but he found it harder and harder to keep his eyes open as he felt the darkness pull at the corners of his mind.  Finally, despite his best efforts, he let the darkness overcome him.

 

"Face, Face!"  Hannibal yelled as he watched Face's eyes close.

 

Hannibal quickly moved his fingers to Face's neck; his heart skipped a beat when he didn't feel a pulse.  Pushing harder on Face's throat, he felt the faint beat.

 

"We're here," BA yelled as he pulled the van up in front of the emergency room doors.  As soon as the van stopped, the big man jumped out and ran inside to get help.

 

Murdock slid the door open and held pressure on Face's side, while Hannibal pulled Face out of the van.  The two men rushed into the hospital as the medical staff ran toward them.

 

"What happened?" one of the ER doctors asked as he watched the silver haired man lay a blonde-haired man, covered in blood, down on the gurney.

 

 "We were hiking out on some property in the town over from here, when I tripped over some sort of explosive because the next thing I know, my son is tackling me out of the way.  He took some shrapnel in the side.   He was shot in a mugging just a couple of weeks ago in D.C., they had to put a drain tube in he only got it removed a week ago. I'm afraid he might have ripped those stitches out again, but there's too much blood to tell. I knew we shouldn't have gone on this trip, but he's been cooped up in the house for so long I just couldn't break his heart and tell him no."  Hannibal did a good job of sounding like a panicked father; complete with rambling on as people tend to do when they're nervous.

 

The doctor nodded sympathetically.  "I think I know exactly where you were hiking.  The local police have had some problems with them already. Damn drug dealers setting up traps all over their property. You all were lucky; there have been a few people shot out there. There's a waiting room down the hall, I'll let you know as soon as I can.  I promise I'll take good care of your son."

 

Before they rushed Face into a room, Hannibal bent down and whispered into Face's ear.

 

"Tem, don't you give up on me now.  We have a warm beach in LA to lay on when you get better."

 

The next four hours were pure hell as the team waited to hear Face's condition.  Murdock sat next to BA, the big guy's arm around his shoulder.  Hannibal stood looking out the window, Face's words and the ugly things he had said back to him, playing through his mind.

 

Frankie sat in the corner, upset that he couldn't borrow the van to get something to eat.  He had tried to tell Hannibal that he would be right back, but all he had received was a punch to the jaw by the enraged Colonel.

 

Hannibal quickly spun around when he heard the door open, and the doctor walked in.

 

"How is he Doc?" Hannibal hurried over to the other man; BA and Murdock right behind him.

 

"Your son is going to be fine Mr. Smith.  He lost a lot of blood, and he was starting to suffer from hypothermia, but he was lucky, the cold is what saved his life."

 

"I don't get it.  I thought it was bad to be cold," Frankie commented, speaking for the first time since Hannibal had punched him.

 

"Yes, the cold can be bad, and it could have killed him if he was exposed to it much longer, but it also helped slow his heartbeat, and kept him from completely bleeding out. He did tear out most of the stitches that he had before; I double-checked the original wound, and there wasn't too much damage.  I've re-stitched it closed, along with the others."

 

"Can we see him?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Sure, but only for a little while; he's extremely weak."

 

The team, minus Frankie, followed the doctor down the hall and into a room where Face lay in a bed, his face as pale as the sheet that covered him.  Quietly Hannibal made his way over to the bed, reaching out he stroked the hair that had fallen into Face's eyes.  As he ran his fingers through the hair again, Face opened his eyes to look up at the Colonel.

 

"Hannibal?" the young man's voice barely audible over the beeping of the heart monitor.

 

"Yeah kid." Hannibal smiled as he leaned over to kiss Face softly on the lips.

 

"Is everyone alright?"

 

"Everyone is just fine; you did a great job getting us out, just like always.  Now you need to rest." Hannibal took one of Face's hands in his, while with the other he started to stroke Face's hair.

 

"John, I can wait a little longer, but please hurry, I can't take too much more."

 

Hannibal blinked back the tears that came to his eyes as he looked down at Face.

 

"You just get better; when you're better we'll make our move for home.  I promise."

 

"Love you John." Face flashed Hannibal a quick smile as his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep.

 

"Love you too, Tem." Hannibal kissed Face one more time before he moved to sit down in a chair beside Face, never once letting go of the younger man's hand.

 

"Hannibal, did I hear you correctly?" BA asked as he moved to cover Face with the blanket that was at the end of the bed.

 

"You heard right.  Face is right; Stockwell is never going to let us out of his gilded cage.  Once Face is back to full health, I want us to be ready to move, that is if you two want to come with us."

 

"We're a team Colonel, we stick together." BA put his hands on Hannibal's shoulder.

 

"You Murdock?"

 

"Heck Colonel, you know me, I'm always game for an adventure, but what about Frankie?"

 

"The minute we leave, we'll give him the choice to stay, or go with us, but not until that moment.  I don't want to be sold out."

 

"Got you."

 

"Alright then, why don't you two go find us a hotel for a few days.  Pick up some new clothes for Face so he'll have something to wear when he gets out, and I could use a new shirt."

 

"Sure thing, come on big guy."

 

Once Murdock and BA left the room, Hannibal turned his attention back to Face.  He tightened his grip on Face's hand and offered a silent thank you to God for allowing his lover to pull through yet another crisis.  Closing his own eyes, Hannibal let his own fatigue overcome him, and he drifted off to sleep, his fingers still tightly intertwined with the fingers of the man he loved.

 

#

 

Three months later…

 

The ocean brushed the sand gently, rolling up onto the shore with ease and then back out into the blue depths once more.  Seagulls squawked in the distance, as they glided around the waters edge looking for food.  The sun shown warmly, a soft gentle breeze lightly blew across the sand, and the four men who lay on it, soaking in the warm sun.

 

Hannibal sat up, his gaze falling on his bronze lover lying next to him, half asleep in the California sun.  The younger man looked happier then he had seen him in quite some time.  His health had improved by leaps and bounds, seemingly since the moment the van crossed the state line, bringing them home again.  His skin, which had paled slightly from the cold winters, and two near fatal-injuries so close together, was glowing deep tan once more, and his eyes sparkled happily once again.

 

Next to Face, lay Murdock, who kept nestling his head onto BA's shoulder, who kept gruffly pushing it off, and muttering, 'fool', but Hannibal saw the twinkle in his eyes, and the slight smirk on his face, for what they really were.


Gone from their side, was Frankie, and Hannibal didn't find him missing him in the least.  He had thought that Face would have thrown a fit when Hannibal told Frankie they were leaving, and offered him the chance to go with them, but Face had never said a word, just stood by his side, his expression warm and welcoming, while the team awaited his answer.

 

Frankie had nearly collapsed in shock at Hannibal's offer.  Hannibal still rolled his eyes when he thought about his melodramatics.  Frankie had stumbled, catching himself.  "Are you crazy?" he had hissed.  "We'll never get our pardons."

 

"We're not going to get them anyway Frankie, and if you don't see that, then you're as blind as I was."


"You're doing this for him, aren't you?" Frankie had thrown his chin toward Face.  "You believe his crap about not getting our pardons?  Johnnie, you're nuts man.  Let him go, but don't throw the rest of our lives away for him."


Hannibal shook his head, his eyes hardening.  "I'm not throwing my life away for anyone.  I'm giving my team back their life; the one that Stockwell stole.  I'm offering you the same thing, whether you deserve it or not," Hannibal ground out, his teeth clenched around his cigar.  "What's it going to be?"


Frankie was shaking his head.  "I can't believe you're siding with Face.  You can't believe what that fag is-" Frankie never got a chance to finish his sentence.  Hannibal's blow caught him across the jaw, sending him slamming back into the wall behind him.


Frankie grabbed his jaw in surprise, sliding to the floor.  "I can't believe you hit me.  Again.  You know, one day you're going to wake up and wish you had listened to me."


Hannibal shook his head, pulling his black gloves on one by one.  "No Frankie, one day I'm going to wake up and be glad to be rid of you.  Probably tomorrow morning in fact.  I'm taking that as your final answer, that no, you're not going with us."

Frankie pushed himself to his feet.  "No, I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you.  I'm telling!" 


Frankie turned to run out of the room, but BA snagged him by his collar.  "Murdock, rope."  Murdock handed him the rope that he had been holding behind his back.  Murdock grinned at Hannibal's raised eyebrows.


"Backup plan, just in case."  He winked.  Hannibal clapped his hands together, and rubbed them back and forth, a grin forming around his cigar.  "I love it when a plan comes together."


On the beach, smiling broadly as he remembered how good it felt to finally leave the confines of Stockwell and his constant surveillance, he glanced at his lover, who peered up at him with one eye, the other squinted against the sun, his hand up over his eyes to block what he could.  "What's that look for?" he asked suspiciously.


Hannibal just smiled, but chose not to acknowledge the question, and instead, changed the subject to the future.  "Tomorrow we meet the new clients.  7 AM; don't be late."


Face smiled.  "How could I?  With you there to kick me out of bed, I doubt I'll ever be late again."


Hannibal smirked.  "Somehow I doubt that kid.  Somehow, I doubt that."

 

Face laughed, and shook his head.  Beside him, Murdock yelped as BA finally shouted, "That's it!" and jumped to his feet; at the same moment he reached down and snagged the pilot, and threw him over his shoulder.  Running to the surf's edge, he ran a ways into the water, and then pitched Murdock in, who yelped, sunk, and the resurfaced moments later, sputtering and gasping.  He pushed the water out of his eyes, and then chased after BA, calling Billy as he went. 


Face laughed, and Hannibal grinned happily.  His team was truly a team once more.

 


Slow Learner by Jullian Gray and Jes Parker
Slow Learner II--The Run In by Jullian Gray and Jes Parker
Slow Learner II--The Run In 2 by Jullian Gray and Jes Parker

 

 


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