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Enemy Within

Enemy Within

Author: Mad Poet

 

Rating: R

Summary:  Faced with the serious illness of one of the team, Hannibal must confront long buried feelings for this man.  Other sites would refer to this as "preslash" .

Disclaimer:  The A team, characters and concepts, are not mine. I intend no copyright infringement. I am making no profit from this story idea or execution.

Warnings: SLASH.   --Or at least, 'preslash', as that is where these emotions are taking Hannibal and Face. Non-con underaged encounters, in the past and off camera. Language. Some angst.

Author's Notes:  I've been writing fan fic forever, but this is the first piece I've tried to post. I began this as a series of vignettes--I hope you like it so I am encouraged to continue.  I haven't seen an episode in a very long time, and wasn't ever a regular viewer, so, if this is really out of character or wrong, just consider it alternative universe.

 

 

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            Hannibal heard someone vomit in the bathroom. He knocked on the door in warning even as he twisted the knob, pushed into the room. His lieutenant was kneeling at the toilet, heaving, then straining to heave.

 

            For days the colonel had had the feeling that something was wrong. Hannibal snapped on the bathroom light. The brightness eclipsed the glow of the nightlight, showed clearly that Peck was pale and shaking and God! so thin.

 

            His man was vomiting again. Without thinking about it, Hannibal crossed the room to sit on the edge of the bathtub, close enough to lay a hand on the tight muscles of Peck's back and shoulders.

 

            He barely ate last night; he can't have anything else in him, Hannibal thought, trying to understand and adjust to this unexpected turn of events. The skin under his hand was sweaty, but not warm with fever.

 

            "Face?" It was the old, old nickname. Hannibal spoke gently, concerned, a little angry, he realized. Something he didn't understand was threatening his man, and Hannibal needed to protect him. The colonel's instincts told him as clearly as the thinned torso, as clearly as the younger man's trembling, as clearly as the uncharacteristic, worrying silence, that this was wrong—not a cold, or the flu, or bad tuna fish wrong, but something lurking and insidious.

 

            "Gimme a minit," Face gasped. His body was not yet ready to relax, ready to stop fighting whatever was wrong inside.

 

            "Face?"

 

            "I'm 'kay, Han'b'l, go back t' bed." Short, gaspy words, like when he'd pulled the younger man from a lake, or ocean, or pond. Fear in his voice, like when he was hurt and needed to know how bad. And lying, trying even now to con the old man who could read him like a book.

 

            Face fumbled for the handle, flushed the toilet. Stayed where he was on his knees, hands gripping his thighs like he'd just folded after running ten miles in full gear.

 

            Hannibal stood, stretched to reach the sink and the decorative cup kept for brushing teeth. He poured cold water, handed the cup to his lieutenant. The younger man took it with a flicker of a glance at him—evaluating the older man, planning the inevitable con. He took a swallow of water, swished his mouth, spit into the toilet.

 

            "You are not 'fine', Lieutenant. Do not try to bullshit me, Peck." Hannibal used as much commander voice as his choked throat would let him, emphasizing rank, emphasizing that he expected the truth.

 

            For a moment, neither man spoke. Face kept sipping and spitting water, collecting himself. Hannibal's fear grew—things were very bad indeed if Faceman was not already trying to dissuade him, spin the situation, insist on 'fine, no problem, no big deal.' When Face finally looked at him, Hannibal felt a new fear, because he saw Peck's distress. After another long, quiet pause, he realized the lieutenant would not speak first.

 

            "You've lost weight."

 

            Peck nodded. "Yes, Sir."

 

            'Sir.' When was the last time he had heard 'sir'—and in that tone of voice?

 

            "How long has this been going on, Peck?"

 

            "Colonel?"

 

            Hannibal gestured to the toilet. Face sighed, moved to resettle himself, leaning back now against the vanity sink, cup dangling forgotten from long fingers, knees bent and bare feet braced on the tub beside Hannibal's perch.

 

            "Awhile," Peck admitted.

 

            Anger was growing fast in the colonel, overcoming the fear. Something was wrong, he needed information to fix it, and he was in no mood to have to pull that information from the junior officer like pulling gold from a miser. "And what is 'awhile', Lieutenant?"

 

            Peck held up a staying hand, looked at his commander searchingly, assessing him again. Hannibal crossed his arms over his chest, waited, braced from the lie, readying himself to ferret out the truth.

 

            "I have an appointment. Tomorrow afternoon. To see a specialist and schedule tests." Dead calm, dead solemn words. Peck's beautiful blue green eyes were both pleading and steady, even honest.

 

            Hannibal grasped the implications immediately. "Then you have a preliminary diagnosis."

 

            A nod. "Yes, Sir."

 

            The bathroom light was harsh and cold. The colonel could see that Peck had lost weight, and color. He looked . . . almost haggard. Hannibal remembered the last two cons—based on sympathy, not attraction. His beautiful, angel faced con man, who could charm the birdies out of the trees.

 

            "Well, what is it?"

 

            The younger man sighed. "I'd rather not tell you, Hannibal, until we get the test results. I don't want—I'll let you know."

 

            He's terrified, Hannibal thought. Naming this makes it real, and he doesn't want to make this real.

 

            Hell, I'm terrified, too.

 

            "Tem—"

 

            Again the staying hand, and now, the rush of words to buy the younger man's way in the matter. "I'll tell you, Hannibal, when I know for sure, when I know what I need to do, how this affects the team—I'd never do anything to jeopardize us, you know that. I've got solid cover at both doctor's offices, I've got all the team's finances arranged—One phone call and you'll have control of the funds if I –" Face stopped himself with a humorless smirk. "Don't blow the retirement funds on Cuban stogies, okay, Hannibal?"

 

            Hannibal leaned forward, elbows on knees, leaned until his face was close to Peck's, gaze locked on those blue-green eyes. "You dyin' on me, Kid?"

 

            So much depended on the younger man's answer. Hannibal watched him so closely that he was holding his own breath.

 

At the last second, the younger man couldn't maintain eye contact. "I hope not. . . Who's going to take care of you when you're one hundred and two in a nursing home?"

 

            "Lots of nice young orderlies will take care of me." Even as he said the words, his own denial of the situation's gravity, Hannibal wanted to take them back. Don't agree with him that he's dying. He's not dying. He can't be.

 

            Face tilted his head back, eyed the ceiling. "I'll stick around long enough to set up the finances. I'll do that before the appointment. . . This could be bad, John."

 

            The unaccustomed sound of this man speaking his given name disturbed Hannibal more than he wanted to admit. "Let me take care of you, Kid,. . . .No one else can get me a nursing home with a cigar lounge."

 

            Face gave a skeptical snort. "They don't' have smo—"

 

            "If any place does, you'll find 'em for me, Face. Templeton. You got to stay alive a while, yet—I ain't ready for a home."

 

            Tears stood in the back of those beautiful, hurting, blue green eyes. "I . . . this. . . I worked out a budget. If I'm not. . . can't .  . you can all be pretty comfortable for eight months or so before you need to take another job. There's time to find a new acquisitions specialist—"

 

            "Did you plan on meds and tests and such?" Hannibal challenged him.

 

            "I—"

 

            "I do not need or want anyone else for this team, Lieutenant."  I have you. I need you. Stay with me.

 

            "Hannibal. John. You might not have a choice." The man's features were as perfect and solemn and earnest as an angel at a tombstone.

 

            That fear again, tightening and filling Hannibal's chest. His men knew he preferred relationships with other men, but never once in all these years had he shared his feelings for a certain young lieutenant with that young lieutenant.

 

            "When's your appointment?" No battle could be fought without information. The tactician in Hannibal needed to learn as much as his tight lipped lieutenant would tell him.

 

            "Afternoon. Three forty."

 

            "I am driving. No argument." Hannibal was dreading the argument that would make helping that much harder on both of them.

 

            Another sigh, and Face accepted his proposal. "I need to be at the bank by one. You should come in with me so's I can sign over th—"

 

            "We'll discuss that later, Tem. I don't know what's going on with you, but I'm pretty sure sitting on this bathroom floor discussing money matters for the rest of the night isn't going to help you get better. You need to go back to bed. It looks like you haven't slept in a wee—in awhile."

 

            Face opened his mouth to argue, closed it, nodded instead. Then, "Yes, sir. Colonel?"

 

            "Yeah?"

 

            "Could you help me up?"

 

            "Sure, Kid." Hannibal was sure Templeton Peck tried to help-- he got his feet under him, and didn't fall-- but the older man still had to practically lift him to his feet. Hannibal kept both hands on that thinned body until he was sure Face was steady. Those beautiful, angelic features—now hollowed out a bit, with unaccustomed circles under the eyes—showed pain.

 

            "Are you hurting, Tem? Do you need something?"

 

            "I already maxed out my pain killers. I'll be fine, really." He smiled a smile of reassurance that neither man believed, but both wanted to. "I'll be okay. Really. Right tests, right meds, some treatments—everything will be hunkey dorey."

 

            It has to be, Hannibal thought. He wanted to say something, but was afraid of what he might say, how he might sound. His hand still rested on Peck's shoulder, and he gave a gentle squeeze. That simple reassurance, contact, filled those blue-green eyes with tears. Although Face gave a mighty sniffle, he refused to let a tear fall.

 

            "'Night, Colonel."

 

            Hannibal stepped aside to let the younger man pass because he didn't know what else to do. "Get some sleep, Kid."

 

            He watched the lieutenant disappear behind his bedroom door. Hannibal made a fist, raised it to strike the wall, in the end making contact with only a sorrowful tap. Don't do this. Don't do this. Don't do this. Don't do this.

 

He wasn't' sure if he were pleading with Face, with God, or maybe himself.

 

            For some minutes he tried to process the encounter into information, into a plan, tried to take charge—But thought would not come, a plan would not come; he couldn't even pray.

 

            Hannibal went to Peck's closed door and listened. There was no sound from inside—no coughing, no tossing and turning, no snoring. Before he could talk himself out of it, Hannibal opened the door. Stepped inside. Closed the door behind him with a soft click of the latch.

           

            "Colonel?" Peck's voice was quiet, dulled, but awake.

 

            "Yeah, it's me, kid." Knowing the lay out of the room, Hannibal sat on the edge of the bed. Face made no move to pull away or to pull closer. He could feel the younger man's anticipation.

 

            "Didn't you order me to get some sleep, sir?"

 

            Now, now you have to say "sir", tonight, when I find out you're sick. When I hear you talk of dyi—of not staying with me. Hannibal knew he was angry, recognized that for over sixteen years Lt. Templeton Peck had both provoked and absorbed his anger, but tonight, he told himself, tonight he would not yell, would not yell now, would not—would not—His own short fingernails bit into his own palms.

 

            Peck propped himself up on his elbows. "Hannibal?" Again the rush of words. Hannibal could feel the wall of words push at him. "I was going to tell you, Colonel, when I knew. For sure. When I had a treatment plan. When I knew if—how long –I'd be out of commission, so to speak."

 

            Hannibal nodded. He wondered if Face could see the gesture in the dark. "I know," he said. "I don't want to talk about it."

 

            "Oh. Ahh, thank you, Colonel."

 

            Hannibal could hear the confusion in Peck's voice. He knew that his charming and beautiful lieutenant was coming to the conclusion that his health really didn't interest the old man. In that moment, Hannibal was reminded of a night nearly eight years ago, when he found Peck in a bar working through a prodigious amount of bourbon. The younger man was very drunk, very angry, and very bitter. Hannibal had expected that bitterness and anger to turn on him, the commanding officer, the man who, arguably, was responsible for a lot of the misery in recent years. Instead, Peck's hatred was for himself—for the charm and looks and deception that came so easily to him. "I can con, or acquire or orchestrate anything, Hannibal; anything you need, I can do. But I can't be the good soldier, never could. I'm not the man you should have on this team. I'm no good to you guys, not really."

 

            Hannibal couldn't remember what had driven Peck to the bottle that night, and, later, although they had never spoken of it, Hannibal had never seen him drink like that again. The old man had taken his car keys, paid his tab, driven him to the safe house, tucked him into bed. Hannibal had sat beside him all night, wondering what he would say in the morning, when Peck sobered up. In the end, Face had insisted he was fine, it had just been the alcohol talking, just the latest case pushing his buttons. Hannibal had let him pull back inside himself, had let him hide behind that charming, beautiful smile.

 

            "I don't want to talk about it, Lieutenant, because I am scared," Hannibal admitted carefully, realizing he wanted a drink of his own, or at least a cigar, to make the statement less of a risk. He continued, anyway. "I can't lose you."

 

            "Lose me? Hey, with your reputation, you'll have people lined up around the block to take my place."

 

            "I can't lose you," Hannibal repeated, and used surprise, his greater height, greater weight, and determination to claim space on the bed beside the younger man. His soldier. His friend. This man closer than a brother, whom he loved like—like—oh, God.

 

            Every cell of Hannibal's being wanted to reach out and gather Face to him in a lover's embrace, wanted to soothe him with gentle kisses, caresses, wanted to hold him so close illness could not touch him, death could not take him, memories could not hurt him.

 

            Not memories of the men when he was five, and six, and later, defenseless. . Not the memories of the older boys in the orphanage. Not the memories of the MPs, or the VC camp. Every memory was a reason Hannibal knew his touch would not be welcome. He knew Peck felt no ownership over that perfect body, it had been taken from him too often. Worse, Hannibal suspected Peck would, if not welcome his touch, would not refuse him, either. He had learned long ago to barter his body for his worth.

 

            Unbidden, the memory of that night's illness returned to him. Hannibal thought again of Face sick and dying—

 

            No. Damn it.

 

            Ignoring thought, acting on instinct and the need to give and receive comfort, reassurance, Hannibal reached out. He hugged the smaller man to him.

 

            "John?" It was a quietly spoken question. There was no resistance. Face was, before he was a con artist, a survivor. Hannibal could feel himself being measured, assessed, judged. Face was wondering what was expected of him, wondering how to play the moment to stay safe, to keep his worth in the old man's eyes.

 

            That much was as clear to Hannibal as if he could see the calculations in Templeton's heart. That hurt him—that after so much time together, so many things shared, Face still could not accept comfort.

 

            They both needed comfort.

 

            "Let me hold you, Tem. I, I think I could use a hug, myself . . . "

 

            The younger man settled into the curve of his arm smoothly enough.

 

            Hannibal spoke again. "You are not dying on me, kid."

 

            "Okay." Peck's voice was close and soft. For a few minutes, they both lay quietly, side by side. Hannibal tried not to think, not of Face being ill, not of the unexpected turn of events placing them in bed together—a place he had dreamed of often enough. He wondered if God would hear a tired, angry, old soldier with too much blood on his hands beg for the life of someone he loved. Then, so softly he wasn't sure he wasn't dreaming,  Hannibal felt the lieutenant nuzzle his ear. Peck had obviously decided on his play. His touch was gentle, inviting. One perfect hand settled on the old man's chest, caressing.

 

            Hannibal gasped in the spotlight of Peck's attention. His blood heated like burning fuel, he could feel his sex responding. Quickly, he grabbed that gentle hand, his own grip harsh.

 

            "I'm sorry, Colonel—" Peck's tone was a heartbreaking mix of genuine apology, genuine anguish, and the smooth honey of a shifting con. "I guess I'm not—"

 

            "Hush, Face, shut up and listen to me."

 

            The younger man lay silent and tense against him. He tried to pull his hand away, but Hannibal held on tight. The colonel spoke into the silk softness of that beautiful hair.

           

            "You didn't read me wrong, Kid. You're the most beautiful man I've ever seen. I've wanted you since I met you. But not like this. Not at all, if I can't have your heart. You are worth everything to me. And I will not let cancer, or AIDS, or a brain tumor, or any other damned thing take you away from me without a fight. I'll be damned if I do that."

 

            He heard a pleased but disbelieving snort. "You don't want my heart, John. It's black as the ace of spades. And sick, besides.  . . But it's nice you care."

 

            "Of course I care. You need to start caring." He could feel his anger again, and forced it away from the moment, away from any words and touch he could give his lieutenant that the younger man might accept.

 

            "I know what goes on in my head," Templeton was saying. "I use people. Hell, I use me. My smile, my ass, whatever. I'm nothing you want. I just look good. I know that." He finished with a sad little sigh. To Hannibal, it was that same sigh as so long ago, only without the alcohol.

 

            "Listen up, Peck, and listen good. This is a direct order, do you hear me? You are not going to die. You are going to get well and I am going to help you—physically, mentally, emotionally. I want you healthy, happy—beautiful smile, beautiful heart, that quicksilver tongue—every bit of you. Every bit of you is worth it."

 

            "Yes, sir, I mean, sure, Hannibal. . . If you don't want to tangle the sheets, then I need to get some sleep."

 

            Face spoke in the same gentle humored, measured tones he used to defuse one of Murdock's wilder rants. Hannibal knew the young man didn't believe a word he'd said. Still, the colonel held the young man close, would not let him turn away. After a moment, Templeton accepted that and began again to relax. Hannibal kissed the top of his head. "Good night, Kid."

 

            " 'Night, Hannibal."

 

 

TBC

 


Enemy Within by Mad Poet
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Enemy Within 3 by Mad Poet
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Enemy Within 5 by Mad Poet

 

 


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