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This page last viewed: 2017-11-21 and has been viewed 2725 times
Rating: R just to be safe!
FINELY! Follow up to 'Time for Reflection'.
All Characters belong to Universal and
Does Face make it? Can Hannibal make amends? What happened with his son and as for the rest read and find out!
See what you think & all comments are welcome!
'BA we are running out of time'
Murdock's fearful tone says it all, I watch the pilot work, our only other passenger is loosing his battle and I can do nothing. As I remember another day just like this and the loss. It's all coming back to me sharply just this time the pain etches every inch of me as Murdock once more turns to me: 'Colonel Smith'… the words are the same and I shut my eyes remembering that doctor and that place. The still form lies in front of me, death leaving only a past reflection of the soul that filled that once vibrant body….
Cold to touch as coldness fills a space in my heart to which no one can remedy as my own guilt covers me as the doctor looks at me to verify that this bloodied form was my son.
My anger had led to this. As I hear my name 'Colonel Smith' the tone professional and work like, to him my son is just another causality of this war his grey eyes search mine but I look past him seeing something else.
Death, the doctor looks my way again and I acknowledge him as he shuts the blue eyes forever and I hold back the cry that I know should come. Yet it dies like the plea of that of my son.
I could not forgive him for turning his back on me when as any father I had tried to protect him. That it was too dangerous but being my son he done other wise it cost him his life and only one of this team knew that.
Vietnam claimed him but I always knew in my heart that it was I that drove him away for pushing to hard and expecting him to follow my lead. Our last words were spoken in anger and hast whether my eighteen year old son ever forgave me will be forever unknown to me.
My memory's flood back to that day as
though it were yesterday although it is eighteen years past. As I turned from
that hospital tent which was the only true death bed in Vietnam and done the
only thing I could do fight the enemy and forget that I had failed as a father.
However by whatever twists of fate to which even know seems even crueller to the circumstances all those years before. I found a young lieutenant under my wing, wayward, fast talking and to this day I have always denied it that he reminds me to much of myself.
I don't doubt even BA seen that on that first evening when that frightened kid entered my unit and forever changed my life and countless others with it.
'Hannibal' the voice sounds distant and it takes a moment for me to get back to the present and this unfolding nightmare.
'I'm going to loose him Hannibal if you don't help me Colonel'
Murdock's tone is sharp and angry.
I see the blood that now covers him, Face's blood. I look past our pilot to the pail form lying limply in the van next to him, once more I see death as I hear BA saying: 'We're here Murdock, you and Hannibal get the kid out, it's not to late.'
BA's gaze finds mine; sorrow is in his eyes and mine. My only thought is it I am to late the damage is done and I'm about to loose the only person that I could call a son and I never even gave him that credit, till he was already lost to me and I real over what brings me here.
Seeing that vulnerable conman turned against me, the truth finely hitting home off what I had done. Once more I let anger mislead my judgment. This time though the cost was far higher than before. For that young Lieutenant had no one and he had trusted me from the first….
Someone takes the limp hand from mine and I watch my blond haired, blue eyed son been taken from me, the blood now on my hands as my two other colleagues are left standing by me, looking for some sign of hope and I cannot give them anything.
The kid was lying in a hospital bed because of me and over and above that I had put him through hell due to that false pardon. In all honesty I could not blame him if he gave up the fight.
That if he dies in this hospital then all that, this team ever was is gone that and the fact that my soul would die with him, leaving an old soldier to whom would be left with nothing but guilt and shame. For having let his team down and for once more turning my back on what meant most to me.
My gaze finds that of Murdock's I see the anger and the pain. They both blame me and they are right. I treated him like hell and like it or not I am the reason we are here. Ford may have pulled the trigger but I know myself that I brought us to this sorry state of affairs.
BA has said nothing since we got here although I see the anger there underlying and directed at me. Plus I know that at the back of his mind he also remembers my son although he hardly knew him but I don't doubt even BA seen the same characteristics that Face shared with my long dead son.
Just Face is not my son but at this moment it is clearer than ever before that my second in command has over the years became a son to me in ways I never realized. I sigh looking at BA and the dark anger in his eyes that he knows what happened the first time round with my own flesh and blood.
Plus the fact I know by the scowl on his face that he is also mad that he let me do it all over again to the one person that deserved it least and I know his judgment is correct. I treated Face just the same as my son and no one could contain my wrath as I struck fear in all three of them after the pardon.
My eyes shut for a moment seeing Face's bloodied body on that wilted grass. Also seeing someone else's that of my sons, eighteen years have long since past since I thought I had lost everything. Only to have it replaced and doubled in someway by that blue eyed conman.
A nurse comes; the kid has at last stabilized just, they found drugs in his body, I nod not surprised walling in my own grief I had forgot to tell them, just what kind off state my second in command was in when I found him and as I look at my two colleagues who are highly unimpressed with this discovery I realize once this nurse leaves I'm going to need to tell them exactly what happened.
The nurses voice continuous telling of his condition, I'm only half listening as I feel myself at last beginning to break, he is not going to make it at this the nurse touches my shoulder maybe seeing the pain in my features: 'The blood loss has been substantial and the wound deep; luckily the drugs have done no more intensive damage. As long as we can get rid of bullet there is a chance. He's tough what with his heart stopping and all most usually give up the fight at that' her kind brown eyes seem sincere.
She smiles, BA grins, Murdock looks downward away from me, and we all know that the kid would never have survived that long were it not for that. I at last sit down and sigh.
Face, Templeton Peck, my lieutenant who should have died, on that lonely wilted grassland spot has at least made it this far. Had to hand it to him Face never gave in to a fight.
Even when the odds were a million to one, the kid had heart and stamina to outdo this whole team combined. Those odds were all that was keeping him alive at the moment and my silent prayers do not seem enough.
The blood loss alone should have done it but by whatever shred of humanity that that kid clung to then it sure was something altogether different from everybody else's and yet his weak fragile form was still with us was a testament to just how strong he was.
As for us we have waited no one has asked over and above his name, the same nurse keeping us notified off his condition and if Decker were to come know I would not care. All that is important is that this soul who I have long denied calling my son makes it. As I look through the glass at the still but white form of my Lieutenant.
Hannibal stands silently over him it was one of the few times I had seen the true Hannibal Smith. The despair and the fact that he had failed were never mentioned before or since that night of his own son's death. Not till the pardon did I see that same anger and frustrated Hannibal come back to the floor and directed in all ferocity at Face.
Like before I could do nothing other than watch as Face suffered under the colonel's wrath, when in our hearts we all knew Face is what makes this team work and that he is a brother to us all but in Hannibal's case a son. One to which he thought was going to run out and leave him like his son did.
How wrong he was Face practically begged forgiveness afterwards and instead got the cold shoulder something which angered me as I had seen it long before in another time and place.
However both I and Murdock had no say and neither would listen but as ever I could not help but feel sorry for the vulnerable lieutenant. Ford could not have picked a better time to pick on an altogether defenceless Face and Hannibal may blame himself but even Murdock knows that he was not altogether to blame for these events.
The score has been settled and another link to this kid's past forged although to what cost to him remains to be seen if he wakes up. All I can do is, wait silently and hope that Face has enough left to make it through for without him we are nothing and it would destroy us all if it ended like this and as I look across at Hannibal.
I realize loosing Face would be like loosing his son again just worse for Face had no family an orphan who was dearly looking for a father figure and Face found that in Hannibal even if Hannibal did not see the full extent till years later.
My gaze shifts from the clearly upset Hannibal who realizes both me and Murdock are mad at him to the silently pail pilot. It has taken Murdock and a little luck that got Face to this hospital alive.
He had proved himself for his best friend and somehow contained his rage that I knew for Hannibal to himself. Also as I look across at him that he like Face is still in the dark to Hannibal's own past and the fact he had a son.
The point had to be addressed for Hannibal had completely broken down back there after we had got Face to the van. Even under the extreme circumstances, Murdock was clearly unsure of the reasons why and I know that he realizes something else is far wrong that both I and Hannibal have kept from him.
As though registering my thoughts the pilot rises and asks in an emotionless voice: 'Anybody interested in a coffee?'
Hannibal looks up to him for a moment, both keeping there gaze level although I can feel the bitterness between them, neither want to talk about it though. Hannibal shakes his head: 'I'll stay here incase there is any change.'
The answer is cool but the emotion is clearly there. Murdock nods turns and grins at me: 'BA?'
BA rises not looking at me directly; I turn back to Hannibal who still has that same look of guilt, shame and sadness. I gaze angrily once more at our supposed leader, whose gaze know diverts quickly from mine, and he cannot even look me in the eye.
My gaze drifts following his through the glass to the dim twilight hospital room, which holds the only person that binds this whole team together. His face chalk white, completely unaware of what has happened to him since we found him and Hannibal.
The kid has made it this far, the doctors said that in itself was a good sign, that most die before they even reach the hospital with the amount of blood loss he had. The bad point was Face was by no means out of the woods yet, the drugs found in his systems drugs which could only have been used to turn him against Hannibal, had hampered the doctor's struggle to save the kid to start with.
Then his heart stopping due to the blood loss had put the odds of him making it pretty slim. In my heart though Face always was one to prove his fight and strength when the odds were against him, he never let on but the whole team knew that underneath the kid was tougher than he led us to believe, even the nurse said that in her own small way.
My anger at Hannibal is still fresh though, however there was something in his actions or lack of actions, from the moment I laid eyes on him, on that fatal spot where Face had been shot, that there was something more underlying, which was linked to the pardon and something more which I could not put my finger on.
As though he had seen it before and although I can't explain why for some reason I feel BA has seen him in that state, one to which neither me or Face have ever seen. In the end I was glad Face was out of it at the time.
Between the facts I did not think I would get him alive to this hospital and practically watching Hannibal fall apart at the same time. After putting us all through so much in these last days… I begin to register BA watching me infuriatingly, as I have been standing at this coffee machine for five minutes and not done anything other than real over events. I quickly put in the money and lift the coffee. I taste it, as per all hospital products it has no taste, even if I really was feeling like it.
BA who has stood resolutely for the last ten minutes looks annoyed, as though he wants to tell me something. Although we know no words can comfort either of use, we know Face could just as easily slip back out of this world and my only other thought is I wonder what Hannibal would have to say then.
It's by far and above the most serious tone BA has said my name is sometime and I know whatever the hell he has to say I'm not going to like, although over what I'm a little unsure off. 'If Face does not make it'
I cut him off feeling; fear myself but determination not to look at it that way: 'Alright if he does not make it Hannibal is to blame here and you know it but what the hell else is going on for I've never seen him like that, the kid was lucky to make it here BA.
I needed Hannibal back there and he was not there, he broke down and I want to know why, for not only my sake but Face as well, I know its linked to the pardon but what else BA, what are you not telling me?'
My anger is beginning to sound in my voice, BA looks me once in the eye and then at the ground:
'What happened with Face or why Hannibal gave him such a hard time after the pardon was the fact that Hannibal had a son, Murdock he got killed in Vietnam and Hannibal never forgave himself for it.'
I stare blankly at the half full cup of coffee know going cold in my hand as BA continues: 'His son got the chance of a better post, Hannibal did not agree but he could not stop him. The outcome in the end was his son being killed in action in a battle he should not even been in.
Hannibal never forgave himself for his son
was a good soldier and would have done anything to help anyone even if he done
it slightly different from his father.'
I take in what BA is telling me at first not believing but in the end see the sense of what one Templeton Peck must have come to mean to our Colonel.
'Face came along a short time later Murdock, Hannibal never mentioned his son to me or any of us for the plain simple fact that Face seemed to fill that gap and maybe something more when he turned up.
Lost vulnerable kid that he was, I don't think Hannibal realized for years just how much Face really did mean to him or to the whole team.'
We look each other in the eye as his voice trails off not wanting to finish what we are both thinking, my anger slightly lessened as I get the bigger picture and the toll that lies on both Hannibal and Face.
'BA it still did not help the fact that Hannibal had issues. Issues he did not deal with till Face ran out on him, Face did not deserve what he got from him after the pardon. Plus that is the whole reason we're now in this hospital'
BA diverts his gaze and quietly adds: 'Not even Hannibal for scene this happening.'
BA sigh's and I realize what he did tell me was pretty deep coming from him, plus what he said was true, Hannibal did not realize and the kid was paying the price heavily for a past which had nothing to do with him.
Over and above that Face also had failed to tell us about a past which was now costing him his life. One which even had the circumstances been different would the outcome still have been the same, for Ford wanted Face dead and know it looked as though that mad Colonel from his past was going to win.
As a team we sure are good at helping other people but we sure are not any use at sorting our own problems out and it was Face that was baring the brunt.
Frustration at both Hannibal and Face burns in me and I find BA's gaze back on me looking for a further response: 'BA, I wish we had known this before the pardon and I cannot let Hannibal off completely and neither can you. Anyway this is the wrong time to start arguing over who is to blame, Face has made it this far and he needs us, as a team and as friends. I just hope he decides to wake up and we can all put this behind us, for if not 'The A Team' is history and Hannibal sure has a lot of explaining to do, actually they both do. For they might be the strongest members of our team but they sure as hell are no use when it comes to emotional stuff.'
My anger is coming back again, further
heightened by the fact BA is smiling at me or trying to hide that fact: 'What's so funny BA for I sure could be doing
with something to lighten my mood'
BA smirks: 'Murdock you're beginning to sound like Hannibal'
We glare at each in silent acknowledgement that we are both feeling a little brighter in spirit and as we head back, although neither of us can hide the inborn anxiety. I also would not like to be Hannibal's place at the moment the fact he has already lost a son a fact which has remained unknown till know and the fact he let it all happen all over again, will be killing our usually in control Colonel.
From my own point of view it proved what I always thought that even the Colonel was human underneath all that Hannibal montage.
A point which I never missed from the first, in which one young lieutenant is the whole reason I ended up being part of this team in the first place, one to which caused another large argument between Hannibal and Face.
Just Face won and I don't think Hannibal ever regretted his decision for letting me be part of the team but he certainly never told Face that anyway or me. Like a lot off things it remained unsaid.
We find ourselves back Hannibal looks up blankly acknowledging us, I smile and I see the slightly surprised glare I get in return. I look through the glass, at the dimly lit room. His form painfully thin and vulnerable, blue eyes closed to the world, tubes feeding live into his still form.
Face may be strong but the point that worries us all is the fact, he is vulnerable and with all that's happened in the last three days the toll itself would be enough to finish anyone. Anyway he is well out of it, caught between life and death; miracle he had made it this far. He always was one to surprise you when the odds were against him but this time I cannot contain my fear that this time our blue eyed conman might just have run out of luck.
No matter how strong the heart it can only take so much and Face had had it both physically and mentally. From both Ford and Hannibal and we all know the signs are not that good and I know that weighs most heavily on Hannibal's mind, as I turn and match my most anxious of gazes on his blue sad but angry eyes.
Strength gone know and death is near. The pain feels gone, filled by surreal warmth that I know is not as it should be. The whiteness encompasses leading to deep silent world of memories and long ago nightmares.
Scams long since done, people I have helped, women I have been with and the eerie feeling as though I'm seeing it all for the first time. Then as though I feel something give in myself, the image folds to that of running through the jungle in pitch blackness of Vietnam, I hear distant gun fire and screams, terror engulfs me. I am back in the frontline of war and the enemy is within.
The path is pail light by the blood red moon, the air is cool, the jungle sounds are distant, and I look at the dark ditch water that runs at the side of this path. Seeing my reflection dark and cold in the trepid water it is then I hear far off gun fire, the sky lights up and I look once more at my image in the water. I see fear there and terrors for I am all alone there is no one to help me and I feel the enemy is within striking distance although I can not see nor hear him. Gun fire lightens the sky again lightening this hell I find myself in again and for a moment before it goes back to shadowy moonlight I see the dark figure.
In the distance, like death itself and I start running, my heart pounding, fear over taking me and I realize what I am looking for Hannibal's unit although this time I am all alone, in this strange nightmare of the true reality.
For those other three companions are long since dead and I am alone my biggest fear. Plus this time I realize I can not find those that can save me for, this is my own past catching up with me and I feel true fear encompass me.
At this moment I stumble, I fall in water, gasping for breath as the cold ness hits me as I scramble out and its then I see the shadow fall over me and I find the gun pointing at me, I know who it is, Ford.
I glare for one moment into those deep maddening eyes, I draw my gun but he has already fired, I go to fire and as I do so, I hear a far distant voice clearly: 'Face'
Ford lies dead at my feet and it is day light. However I quickly realize this image is wrong as well as I touch my temple remembering an old wound and then I feel pain: 'Easy kid you're going to make it.'
Pain fills my chest, pain which is killing me and with this I feel myself buckle again giving in as the image folds and I hear the words again cross whatever barrier there is, the one which I have always listened to and obeyed, that of Hannibal's. '…conman but you're the only person in the world I would be honoured to call my son'
I cannot quite place when or where Hannibal said that but I try to cling to that, there was something in the way Hannibal said it I feel hope, in this forbidden place.
However I am lost, adrift in this sleepless world, where there is no pain but something more. Something which I cannot fight, I am too tired to call out and unsure even why I should.
As though in answer I find myself in that old dream, one which has haunted me more than any other, even that off Ford. I hear the music first calling me, leading me almost too quite pastures of rest. As I find myself once more in a motel room a lost child, wanting a mother who I will see one last time.
My playmate smiles as if in knowing, I play with the dime in my hand, turning it on the sun kissed wooden floor. Patiently waiting for someone who is only a vague memory: to me, yet my only link to a past: which I dare not even think about.
Which brings one thing alone terror, the terror of the unknown rise in me and fear, the same fear that filled me before I landed in Hannibal's unit. The feeling that I'm going to loose, I'm going to die and I can do nothing and the fact all my life I have been forever lost and forever hiding from my past.
The only exception being the only thing that never let me down, that allowed me to become something, The A Team and the one and only person I respected and could have called a father being Hannibal.
Strength comes that I must not give in or gives up; they expect that much of me. That to die know from a past misjudgement that I could neither help nor stop would be too much like giving in, something that was never my trait.
That and determination to make amends over the pardon and whatever else I have left unsaid for the last eighteen years to the one and only family that do care about me.
His white form lies asleep, unaware off the three figures in this room, silently praying for him to wake up. For once our lieutenant looks completely at peace; for once I also would be quite glad if he just woke up and gave me it for the way I treated him.
The nurse said he was past the worst it was only a matter of time, just I feel we are fast running out of that as well. As if in answer I feel the twitch of his right hand, I wait a moment, nothing more happens.
Then at last I see his right hand move and I see with a great deal off effort his blue ocean eyes at last blink at the fluorescent light above him, as his tired gaze shifts round the room at last coming to land on that of mine, the only thing I see is that the fight is completely gone from him and even at this moment I see bitterness in that gaze.
My breath comes sharp; I feel pain searing torment pass through me. Plus jumbles of tangled memories which I know are all too real. As I feel consciousness returning and energy ebbing back through tired muscles, my thoughts drift and I feel almost certain I have been out for at least a day, probably more and before I even open my eyes I know I am in the relative safety of a hospital.
Over and above that I'm not over sure of how I got here or what exactly happened but a cold shiver reminds me it has to do with my past. Neither thought makes me want to open my eyes but after a second attempt, I grit my teeth and at last blink at the dim light and the white ceiling above me. I feel nocuous but ignore it as the room at last comes into focus and the two figures gathered near me are watching as though I've come back from the dead. In all respects I feel that I have. As I turn my head and find sitting on the chair next to my bed, hand firmly clasped over my right hand, which feels weak.
The strong but still sad and angry looking Hannibal, who is smiling at me in such a way that I don't know what to say other than: 'Hannibal'
The voice is barely audible yet again but never in all my life have been so glad to hear my own name and although I still don't like that lost haunted look in those serene blue eyes. I turn to Murdock to get the doctor to tell him our Lieutenant is awake but Murdock is already heading for the door, giving a smile to Face in acknowledgement and saying what we all feel: 'Thought we had lost you there for a while, anyway I'll go get the doctor'
Murdock hold's Faces gaze for one moment more, sends me a silent look of go easy on him Colonel for no saying what he remembers, plus I can see the relief on the pilots face that must be showing clearly on mines and BA's as well, we came to close too loosing him.
I know there is a lot that needs to be said, but as I look at his tired form, this is not the time. My worry is I know what Face is like; he will push himself to fast and say everything is ok when it is the complete opposite. I see him looking at me for some sort of response I give the only answer I can: 'How are your feeling kid?'
Big mistake his gaze quickly diverts to that of the kind eyes of BA, his voice quite in response: 'Hannibal how do you think I feel'
The voice bitter and not the usual level headed answer from Face but I guess I could not have asked anything worse but I am saved from going any further from the arrival of the tall young doctor that saved his life and two swell looking nurses, the nurse who kept us notified of his condition is gone. However I see these nurses have already attracted the eye of the newly awakened Lieutenant. At least there was nothing wrong there anyway but I know by the look on his white face and the look in his eye.
That things are not right between us and I'm not altogether sure how to make it up to him or this whole team more to the point. I hold Face's gaze for a moment more blue eyes are still and desolate looking, the fight gone from them replaced with detached sadness that only further underline what I have put him through.
We leave the doctor to do his checks and I cannot help the growing unease building in me that Face will not want to talk and I curse myself for loosing what we had, he always looked on me for support, friendship and as a father and I let him down on all counts.
For a day it has been like this growing silence among a usually over talkative team. Mind you it was nice to see the back of that hospital. We all thought that however it did not help the ever increasing feeling of guilt washing over the whole team.
Face has hardly said anything and nobody
knows exactly how to breach the subject of Ford. The only piece of humour and
only clue to how he feels was when he got out the hospital and ironically
directed at Hannibal: 'So I gather that must have been some agent that I had to
go con those guns off.'
The voice was curt and short and we all picked up his harsh tone this just was not the normal Face. As a moment of awkward silence followed and Hannibal's only reply was: 'You could say that Face but I think you would be the one that should know'
A flicker of anger passed over the Lieutenants face that and confusion and the kid did not reply just turned and looked blankly at the parking lot in answer. BA gives me that warning glare that we were continuously giving each other after the pardon and I take the only way out possible: 'Hannibal where we going'
I see the colonel smiling thankful for the lee way given to get off the subject: 'Somewhere quite somewhere that you Lieutenant can get some much needed rest and I can think of one lonely outpost that will do us all good.'
At this point he sends his usual over the top glare to us all to which only Face ignores but at least earns a further comment from him: 'Hannibal this place had better have good food.'
And that was the closest any of us had got to a normal answer from Face.
The lonely outpost ended up being in the foothills of Montana and it had taken us all day to reach this quant homely little motel. Face had slept more or less the whole way or acted as though he had. Waking up only to take the strong medication and a little of the food offered to him. Plus no one missed the fact that the kid seemed to be completely ignoring a guilt ridden Hannibal.
Actually the only person the kid seemed to be talking to was BA. I had not missed that anytime he had been awake long enough his gaze kept coming to the driver, as though in someway he seemed to be looking for protection, against me and Hannibal or maybe I just was reading too much into things.
Ever increasing worry over Face was beginning to show on all three of us a point to which the Lieutenant seemed prepared to ignore, only pushing us all further apart. As the kid's mood was steadily deteriorating, this team was steadily following apart along with it.
To make matters worse Face was going out his way to make things hard on us all, there were no whines just bitter resentment there, plus if he had not noticed we were all starting to get a little angry over it.
Both myself and BA know its high time Hannibal had it out with the kid once and for all over the pardon, his son and everything and we all know that like it or not Face was going to need to talk about a whole load of stuff he has not told us either.
Plus I have not been able to get a chance to talk with Hannibal since Face woke up and I have not mentioned what I know but I see that we have an understanding to some extent over things. For our biggest concern is Face and as I glance across at the white face vulnerable looking young man I get another snap comment from him: 'What are you glaring at Murdock can I not eat my food without one of you watching over me.'
The voice is groggy but angry my gaze finds that of Hannibal's and I see anger in his eyes know as well: 'Face that is enough'
The tone alone was enough to divert everyone's gaze to there half eaten food and although Face looks as though he is about to make another comment Hannibal shifts him another one of those mad gazes of warning that he is pushing his luck. The younger man relents and we eat on in silence.
After only a few moments the Lieutenant rises Hannibal once more springs to live: 'Where you going Face'
His voice quite but sincere and we all hear the emotion of how worried he is over Face come through in his tone: 'Going for a walk'
The lieutenant's voice giving only a hint of the anger underlying and as all our worried looks turn to our Colonel we know that Hannibal has got something more to say: 'Face you need to start eating more kid'
Looking at the half eaten food on his plate not quite what me and BA were hoping for but its at least a start, as we watch our lieutenants reaction, at this the kid diverts his gaze and does not comment, as the lieutenant gaze appears to have found safety in the attractive young waitress who keeps looking his way.
'Plus kid stop, trying to act that everything is ok'
At this the younger mans blue eyes flare in anger and sadness and we realize Hannibal has probably pushed the point too far as the look on the kids face, goes to steal anger a look that not even Hannibal could match at the best of times: 'Hannibal I'm fine and would you stop treating me like this I can take care off myself and I don't need you or anyone else's help so can you all just leave me alone.'
His angry graze shifts round us all blue eyes flare with bitterness and his usually handsome features cruelly twisted, however Face has not finished and turns to Hannibal: 'I'm not your son Hannibal so don't treat me as one.'
Hannibal flinches and everyone's gaze diverts away from Face who is giving us all that look that always makes Hannibal mad, that our angered Lieutenant is looking down on us.
However this time is both literally and metaphorically just we all know Face is needing to talk and he's doing the only thing possible when forced, the kid is running away from the issues.
To make matters worse Face is using his best trait of reading what is really going on and twisting it against us and by the look on the Colonels face, the kid has evidently went too far.
Hannibal's features know turn too steal anger and we can see he is holding back what he really wants to say and simply gives the only reply he can and we all hear the sadness in his tone: 'FACE'
At any other time this would have certainly gained some response from the kid however Face still has that challenging angry glare leaving no room for argument over how he feels and with that same look of scorn and look of trust gone completely from him.
Our second in command walks away without a backward glance, almost bumping into the waitress that had caught his eye earlier, however uncharacteristically Face pushes the brunette out his road and his usually courteous manners appear to be all but gone.
Hannibal watches his lean form disappear from view and BA gives a voice of reason to us all: 'Hannibal Face don't look to good and you need to talk to him man'
Hannibal turns to the rather angered looking BA: 'I know BA just he's hurting enough as it is.'
BA gives Hannibal one of those you've seen it before looks: 'Still did not mean he had to fly of the handle like that Hannibal.'
BA glares at him and I give Hannibal the answer we are all thinking: 'In all respects colonel it has not stopped you before and there some things he has the right to know. That and the fact we are going to loose him completely if he keeps going on like this he won't talk he keeps snapping at all of us and more to the point I don't think he knows who he can trust to talk too.'
We look at each other in unison none of us at all proud of what has happened:
'Sorry Hannibal but it's the facts.' I hear myself adding.
Hannibal's steal eyes look straight through me and I see the emotion in his face: 'I know Murdock' his voice quite and defeated as he has been ever since Face got shot but it merits a comment from me.
I smile at Hannibal: 'Hannibal you're only human and you were not all to blame for what happened.' I see Hannibal is wondering why I'm being so forgiving and I glance over BA's way.
The Colonel turns to BA realizing what I've been told: 'BA'
However BA glares angrily at Hannibal: 'He
had the right to know Hannibal and we're all missing the point here. We almost
lost Face completely and then there would have been no team and we all know how
much you think of the kid. Yet he has always been the one to put his live on
the line for everybody and the one time he done something wrong and he brought
up a whole load of bad memories for you. We ended up forcing him out and
leaving him even more vulnerable to the likes of Ford. To tell you the truth no
wonder he is mad and don't want to talk to us. We all let him
down not just you Colonel and we're the only family he has.'
Hannibal looks at BA partly in admiration and partly like me in disbelief but I'm the one to voice it: 'BA since when did you think so much'
BA roll's his eyes and replies quietly: 'It's Face you all know what the kid is like'
We look at each other for a moment longer worry showing in all our eyes I go to speak but this time Hannibal rises and for the first time I see determination in that look: 'I let Face down ever since the pardon I seen my son in him. So I started treating him the same for I thought the kid was going to run out on me again that he did not want me. I guess I got that wrong completely. Worst moment of my life to see Face turned against me and seeing him in that hospital was like loosing my son all over again just worse.'
Hannibal looks far older than his years at this moment and the pain clearly shows on his face:
'I know how much he means to you, and as you say BA he might be a conman but he's always been the one to help everyone else out first and put his live on the line and never thought twice about it problem is though that he never wants to talk about his past which was always the kid's biggest flaw, he never told me about Ford.'
At this he shakes his head, anger showing clearly on his face and something else regret that things could have been different if the kid had only told him about Ford, the blue eyes look to us for support as Hannibal continues: 'I lost a son to gain one, just Face has as always been left in the dark over a lot off things and its time he knew the truth.'
We all hear the old Hannibal tone at last returning with the same look of determination that was always there but I give him one last response: 'All true words Hannibal but go easy on him he's pretty wound up and as you say he is hurting pretty bad plus Hannibal you should have told us all about your son long ago you did not deal with your issues then and Face paid the price for it one way or the other no matter how much he means to you.'
Hannibal's eyes flare in anger for a moment but the old reasoning look is there: 'Murdock I think you've said enough and you have a point. Plus I think it's high time I went and found our lieutenant its time to do what we do best take action instead of talking about all the what ifs and buts don't you agree Murdock?'
The tone is enough to make both me and BA draw back; I nod and realize our Hannibal is definitely back on form and I realize I have definitely hit a raw nerve but it was one that I had to challenge.
With that Hannibal rises, my own thoughts and that of BA are thinking about the wounded Lieutenant and as we have been for the last day wondering what on earth will be going on in that head of his.
Face can be hard enough to follow at the best of times and we know that meeting with Ford cost him something it was written all over his face and his voice anytime he has spoken since, that little incident there only underlined how out of control Face was.
Added to this was the fact he had made it clear he was not wanting to talk about anything that had happened and Hannibal for his own reasons had justifiably not pushed him or mentioned anything either. This had been the outcome.
I find myself with one last statement: 'Hannibal you did not leave it to late to tell Face.'
The Colonel gives me a look of respect and acknowledgment and we all realize it's the closest we've all come to a decent conversation in a number of days just there is one person that really does deserve a decent account of all this and we're all hoping that Hannibal can get the Face man back for all our sakes.
At last I find him, the kid has not seen me
yet as I look at this lonely wilderness spot.
Looking out onto the barren mountains ahead
and the setting sun, which is sending streaks of red light across the
landscape, I turn my attention back to my lieutenant, the walk has at least
brought a little colour back to his cheeks but I see his features are set in
firm determination and I realize this is not going to be easy:
'Time we talked kid'
Face does nothing other than continue to look out at this wild landscape, anger is at last returning to me, for I always hate when he deliberately undermines my authority and I see the pain in those handsome features, once more I always wonder why he is so hard on himself.
I ignore the Colonel as I have been doing for the last day as I try and ignore the pain inside me as well. Hannibal's eyes are now turning to steel grey, anger beginning to show there, for some reason this satisfies me.
The kid at last turns and gives me the same look he has given me for the last day. Distrust and anger is all that I see in those blue eyes that usually say so much and as he at last speaks the tone is clear enough on how he feels: 'Hannibal there is nothing to talk about your fine; I'm fine, we are all fine so just leave it at that.'
Hannibal is not buying it for one moment though and his steady steel glare continuous. I falter taking my gaze from his and looking at the ground, realizing he had been ready for me coming out with that one, I was lying anyway: 'Face this team is not fine or anywhere near that because of me and it always you lieutenant that bares the brunt.'
Face's gaze drifts to me and I see the acknowledgement of my words and the fact I have at last gained his attention: 'Care to elaborate on that Hannibal'
However the kid's tone is still emotionless and cold and there is a hint of anger in his voice as he once more bows his head and looks downward ignoring me: 'Well kid we almost lost you back there and it was my fault because I left you in the dark about something I should have told you years ago. I seen you doing the same thing as someone else and it hurt I thought you really were going to leave the team kid and I made you pay when the pardon did not work out.'
I see puzzlement in the younger man features and the fact he is unsure of what to make of this: 'Hannibal I let you down, end of story.'
Once more the kid turns away from me, we still are not on speaking terms. I at last come forward; place my hand on his shoulder. It is quickly shrugged off and those blue eyes look at me in pure defiance.
Hannibal shakes his head, his steel glare holding mines in place: 'No Face never in all these years have you once let me down, even with the pardon you were doing what you thought was right, I just could not handle it.'
Once more I get a curt reply: 'Never thought I would hear you say that Hannibal'
Murdock is correct the kid is wound up and not wanting hurt again: 'Yea well kid the reason I could not handle it was the fact the someone from before was my son.'
This time my lieutenant can not hide the look of both shock and surprise at my statement and this time there is concern in his voice and I apparently have got his full attention this time: 'You had a son Hannibal?' the blue eyes are know searching me for answers and understanding.
'Yes Face I did have a son'
The blue eyes look at me but I think for a moment he is seeing someone else; I divert my gaze again, feeling unease of where all this is going. A moment later Hannibal hands me an old worn picture and I see the likeness.
As I look at the much younger, happier looking Colonel Smith and his son. The kid has the same steel blue eyes, same set features, and the same stubborn look as his father the only difference being the kid has jet black hair. Both are in army uniform and I can only guess that this picture was taken just as the war started.
Face hands me the picture back not commenting straight away but the blue eyes show concern and maybe trepidation as well: 'What age and rank was he Hannibal?'
My voice is clear and without emotion as I look at Hannibal and his past: 'Ryan Smith, eighteen years old Face when he was killed in Vietnam and he had just newly been promoted to Lieutenant against my wishes, when it happened.'
Even after all this time I hear the anger in Hannibal's tone over this, I keep my gaze on him knowing that whatever comes next is going to involve me: 'My son, was a good soldier Face, he lacked experience but he knew just what to do'
This time I cannot help but comment: 'Just like his father then.'
The colonel does not appear to have heard me as he continuous: 'I let him down Face, he looked on me for support and I did not give him it, when he became a lieutenant. Instead all I did was push him away inevitably my son took the only action possible when your own father ignores you, changed unit on me just as we were about to enter one of the greatest battles of Vietnam. Anger was all I felt at first and then I just shut the thought off never thinking I might loose him but it was too late, my inexperienced son was about to be drawn into a battle far beyond his years.
I eventually found him in the aftermath of the Bear Chain event, one which we won and one to which Ryan went down as a hero but was to cost my sons live and even in his last moments and the look of plea in his eyes I still behaved like a colonel cool and calm and desolate.
As my own son died and I could not forgive him for running out on me, not completely anyway, as I watched him slowly die in that carnage along with no saying how many unnamed young soldiers that died in Vietnam.'
With that Hannibal turns back my way, emotion clear in his voice and the clear blue eyes hint at the sadness that is underlying. However once more I can no longer keep my gaze on his for long as I try to divert my own memories away from Vietnam.
However it is futile as I remember Barnes, Radcliff and Forbes fondly from that dying unit that had been Fords and those countless others that lost there live to save ours and as I look across at Hannibal, I see a soldier remembering a long dead son and that he still blames himself for it.
I see his gaze back on me and I see something more underlying there: 'Face why did you never tell me about Ford'
Once more I see the kid withdraw, the cold stare comes back, and his features cloud and the blue eyes look at me in hate: 'The same reason you have been unable to talk about your son.'
His words hit me hard, as I know they are true and I see in those blue angry eyes bitterness and sadness and that same haunted but defiant look that was there the first time I seen him all those years before. The handsome features darken once more as the kid know tries to walk past me.
However I am no where near finished as I stand my ground not letting my lieutenant walk past, I am quickly given a left hook that sends me sprawling to the hard ground. My only other thought is that for someone just out of hospital he has not lost much off his touch.
As I find myself looking up at my second in command the same look on his face that I seen that day on the bluff when Ford was levering him away from me. His blue eyes glare at me for a moment more bitterness there and then as though giving into the fight completely.
The kid falls to the ground in a heap next to me covering his face, his head once more bowed as I brush myself off and finely reach out and put my hand on his shoulder.
This time there is no resistance just a deafening silence between us as I at last speak: 'Easy Face I don't blame you for being mad'
For moment nothing is said my lieutenant's only answer is silence and although we've had our fights before, I always knew what was going on in that head of his this time I don't: 'Face I trust you kid and you've got to trust me, Ford done no long term damage, you stopped him Face.'
At this I am cut off abruptly by my second in command: 'I stopped him Hannibal but I thought I had dealt with it years ago, I thought he was dead, he haunted me for years though. Ford was my first real taste of what Vietnam could do to a person and I never forgot.'
His cool eyes search me as though my years over him should have some sort off answer for it but I don't, I see a little tension easing from his face but the kid's blue eyes still show that haunted look the fight gone from them completely and its clear to me just quite how much Ford has cost him. 'Face it's time you stopped blaming yourself'
Face still is not buying it as his voice once more continues in bitterness: 'I also know that if I had not landed in your unit that I would either be dead already or in some jail for the plain simple reason I cannot seem to stay out of trouble.'
Hannibal grins at me as though seeing a joke in my comment: 'I never thought I would hear you say that about yourself Face.'
At that those steel grey eyes have that honest gaze and realize he also has been waiting for me coming out with that as well. I groan and see Hannibal is going to be the one doing the talking.
To a certain extent we are know on speaking terms, however as I look at this battered vulnerable form next too me, the eye know softened the harshness gone from him. I find myself with one comment: 'Face you never like giving into a fight and I'm glad off that, never forgot our first meeting for that plain simple reason.'
The kids know calm gaze looks me directly in the eye as I see for the first time in days a hint of a grin across his handsome features: 'Hannibal what are you trying to say?'
Well I guess know was as good a time as any: 'I always have looked on you as a son Face and always will and if anything ever happened to you Lieutenant then there would be no team and I would be worthless. Eighteen years have passed since I found a frightened young soldier in my unit and, I did find the son I was looking for in you.'
I rise and reach out my hand to help him up.
Face hesitates for a moment, completely unsure off what to say and for the first time in a long time I see that kid that entered my unit. Uncertainty over where to go next with this, I help him rise; he won't look me in the eye. As he quickly changes the subject: 'I don't feel to good Hannibal'
I grin taking his word for it glad that he was at least being honest over how he really feels and I add: 'That was BA sentiments exactly'
The kid roll's his eyes and stops me for a moment, turning to look at the golden landscape: 'Two things Hannibal one thing I have never forgotten when you first called me Face and well the rest is history in that respect but to tell you the truth I always looked on you as a father.
Even if I never find my parents, I will always have a father and I remember know what you told me on that bluff before Ford shot me, you meant every word, didn't you Colonel?'
It's more a statement than anything else but I know its probably closest I'm going to get to the kid talking about his own past, more to the point it was the first time he had ever mentioned his parents freely and for that I was thankful.
'Face I meant it.'
With that I see how bad he really is feeling as I find him supporting heavily on me know, I watch as he bites his lower lip trying to cover up the pain and I see the subject is closed.
As an after thought I add: 'Face you really should not go around hitting people in your condition' I grin at him, the younger man relaxes a little more beside me:
'Really Hannibal it depends who it is though and can we get back, I really could be doing with some off that good food they have and some sleep. Plus I owe that waitress an apology and well I guess I owe BA and Murdock one as well.'
The blue eyes have their old shine back and I see the first real smile in days.
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